The Top To Bottom EP is the return of US rockers On Top and it is fair to say that they are not only back in full riotous form but coming equipped with a tastier potent sound than ever before. Three years ago the band released their attention grabbing debut album Top Heavy, an acclaimed and thoroughly enjoyable release marking the hard rock scene’s cards. It was not an encounter which lit blazing fires in our personal hunger but certainly kept a keen appetite on standby. The new release is another matter which though it still does not push the Philadelphia trio into being an essential part of our heavy rock menu, is destined to become a regular aperitif.
Formed in 2008 by vocalist/bassist Jaron Gulino(ex-Trasher, BSOM, Capitalist Death Machine, and Midnite Hellion), On Top soon had a demo recorded with session musicians Brian Davis (guitar) and John Norcorss (drums), Another Night of Sleaze swiftly pleasing newly recruited fans. The band’s first official line-up followed soon after and saw the addition of drummer Danny Piselli (Fisthammer, ex-Vulcan, ex-Coffin Dust) into the personnel. The following year saw a line-up shift occur before the quartet recorded the self-titled six-track EP in 2010. Further line-up disruptions caused the band to take a brief hiatus before mid-2011 Gulino and Piselli returned with of guitarist Alex Kulick (ex-Striker) alongside. Top Heavy was uncaged in the November of that year via Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, its release thrusting the band into a new spotlight as well as shows and tours which reinforced their energetic reputation on stage. Now with guitarist Brian Davis linking up with Gulino and Piselli, On Top come forth again to reveal a new maturity and endeavour to the songwriting and sound, as well as a stronger punk rock essence adding to the bands richer and captivatingly contagious bait.
Mixed and mastered by Chris “The Wizard” Collier (KXM, Lynch Mob), Top To Bottom swaggers into focus on a deliciously toxic bassline, a wantonness right away teasing ears from No Shame which is taken up to greater effect by the fiery strides of guitars and crisp beats. Into full stride the song is instantly anthemic to which the Zack de la Rocha like tones of Gulino brings a raw and appealing antagonistic edge. Davis is just as swift in impressing with his sonic and melodic endeavour, riffs and grooves all rich in colour and creative energy, as are the swiping rhythms of Piselli and the continually grouchy bass of Gulino. The song is certainly not pushing into new fields for hard rock but undoubtedly giving it a new infection of energy and enterprise which hits the right spot.
The following Cold And Blue is equally a familiar but refreshing protagonist, riffs grazing with pleasing causticity and vocals bringing again a great punk rawness to the contagious presence of the song. A relaxation of energy mid-way loses some of the impetus of the track though it provides a strong canvas for the excellent bass and guitar hues to paint a captivating narrative before the song returns to its feisty and infectious stomp.
Don’t Go makes the best entrance of all the songs, once more the heavy dark resonance and growl of the bass enslaving ears as haunting crystalline scythes of guitar vigorously shimmer across the potent enticement. It is a mere breath though before grooves and melodic flames expel their imaginative fire across the enveloping dramatic landscape of punk and heavy metal with rich strains of blues rock. There is a beefier intensity and ferocity to the song than on the others, a hunger which does not lose any of the virulence drafted on its predecessors as it brings a predation to its attack which fully captivates as it takes best track moment.
The closing Bad Love is a thoughtfully and skilfully crafted offering but lacks something which pushed the previous songs to lofty heights. Certainly the guitar craft and rhythmic demands are as impressive and potent as ever and vocally Gulino takes no prisoners with his appealing delivery, but there is a spark missing. Nevertheless the song proves again the new invention and adventure of On Top is an impressive step forward and leads anticipation of their next full-length to make an appearance.
On Top is a band still moving towards fulfilling their potential but are certainly on course and the right lines as shown by the thoroughly enjoyable Top To Bottom.
The Top To Bottom EP is available via Horror Pain Gore Death Productions now!
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