Big Collapse – Prototype

Big Collapse

Well, The Militia Group has done it again with the recent release of Prototype, the first album from Big Collapse. The band’s line-up is impressive, with former Shift vocalist/guitarist Joshua Loucka leading former members of Burn, Absolution and Die 116. Big Collapse’s sound may be vaguely familiar to Shift fans, courtesy of Loucka’s distinctive vocals, though musically, this project is a bit more varied, with flashes of indie rock, punk, and 80s-influenced metal sprinkled throughout the 10 solid songs that make up this album.
Prototype is the same type of solid album that the Foo Fighters have just about patented – upon first listen, it sounds like a run-of-the-mill rock album, though more listens make it obvious exactly how much staying power the record really has. Big Collapse has put together a package that’s not overly riffy, super flashy, or over-produced – It’s just flat-out full of good rock songs. “Adds Up to You” is a nasty, dirty-sounding rocker that shifts from a Nirvana-esque opening to a thick, chugging bridge-and-chorus set up that’s nicely accentuated with flashes of lead guitar work. Still, for as nasty as the rhythm is, the song’s chorus is almost anthemic in a big-time arena rock way.
This is the strongest suit in the Big Collapse closet – the fact that the band can take Loucka’s coarse voice, combine it with gruff guitar sounds, and still manage to get something catchy out of the deal. “Automatic” starts out with a surprisingly poppy guitar-and-vocal open before thickly riffing into what might be the album’s poppiest chorus. “Deliver Me” is a solid rocker with two good ‘stun’ rhythm guitar parts and a few stutter-step beats that lead to a slowed-down, winding chorus – though the band slickly glides right back into the original rhythm without the slightest hitch. The album’s title track is a high-tempo rocker with more of the way cool two-rhythm-guitars-doing-different-things vibe going during the verses, while the chorus breaks out into full-blown hard rockin’ territory.
While basically everything here is solidly catchy and rocking, the standout track on Prototype is easily the sadly droning “We All End Up Dead,” which absolutely destroys the rest of the album in terms of intensity and resolve, lyrically dragging out closets full of skeletons from characters that may or may not be (auto?) biographical. The guitars shred as Loucka describes his first subject (“…stopped trying to be alive in 1993…every day’s like the last, and always lasts like three…sometimes you get the feeling she’s got secrets, and she’s keeping the good ones to herself…”), though they become more forgiving and telling when Loucka screams for her, “‘We all end up dead / So pass me my meds,’ she said / We all end up dead and sick in the head.” The aggressive guitars return for the second subject (“…he tried to drink himself to death, but he just wouldn’t die…insides wouldn’t fail, but not for lack of trying…”), but again, they die down to a more comforting level as the vocals cut through, calling repeatedly, “Can’t stop feeling / Can’t stop bleeding / Can’t stop breathing.” The subtle touch here is the most disturbing, as the chorus line of “We all end up dead” is puctuated with cheery, almost gleeful sounding backing chants of “Dead / Dead” that make this already morbid number seem even more strangely so.
Even taking away the fact that the other nine songs on Prototype are all solid, I have to admit that the 3 1/2 minutes of “We All End Up Dead” are some of the best reasons I’ve had to recommend buying anything that I’ve reviewed in all of 2003. Thankfully, I don’t have to base my personal recommendation strictly on that track, though, as this Big Collapse release is, from start to finish, one of the most solid records I’ve heard all year. It’s not flashy, and it’s not full of groundbreaking songwriting or production work – it’s just, simply put, a really, really good rock album. Highly recommended.