Sideburner, Sideburner (Independent)

Lafayette’s Sideburner owes a lot to the sounds of a plethora of heady (not heavy), instrumental metal bands of the early 21st century, namely Collapsar (a band in which Sideburner drummer Brett Judice played).

But Sideburner is not a Collapsar rehash. Instead, it injects new life to the genre via vocals, albeit it sparse offerings—“Slow moving dream that drives me insane” is the entire vocal track for “Slow Moving Dream.” Noting Pink Floyd influences, some of the songs have a “One of These Days” formula. In other words: less talk, more rock.

Pulling from decades of delicacies, Sideburner pays tribute—without being bound—to hard-rock sounds as far back as Iron Butterfly. Vintage keyboard sounds and grand-scale rock segue into newer fare that sounds like ’90s alt rock, even through a bare-bones approach, wailing vocals and adventurous guitars recall the heyday of hair metal. At other times, it packs the simple and brutal punch of early Metallica. Timing changes and schizoid guitars blur genre lines and bring it to the present.

Were King Crimson raised on the rock they helped create instead of jazz, or if The Sword had more leanings towards rock nostalgia instead of epic tomes, this is the album they would have recorded. A perfect example is “The Gospel According to …”—which starts off a bit like The Animals’ version of “House of the Rising Sun” before breaking into a trudging alt ’90s rock memento, dipping into psychedelic keyboards and ending with a very modern metal sound that has the feel of what should be played before two gladiators battle to the death.

Though heavily influenced, Sideburner is not derivative and is its own beast entirely. Don’t look for poetry here. Instead, you’ll find a retrospective of rock funneled through a progressive metal approach.