It’s mind boggling to me to hear a record like White Noise Owl’s debut full-length, Condition Critical, think of how much work was put into it and then have it more or less dumped on the unsuspecting masses with barely a peep of promotion. But these are strange times we live in, kiddies, where crap is rewarded and creativity is smothered.
It’s especially baffling when every track within is pure Arena Rock…and I don’t mean that in the Bon Jovi/Def Leppard sense of the word either. I’m talking about the fact that every song on here sounds fuckin’ HUGE. Like, it was meant to be played in as large a venue as possible with Pete Murray triumphantly holding court and viewing a sea of hungry music fans lapping up the Rawk goodness.
But I digress.
Let’s get this out of the way first in case you couldn’t already tell: Condition Critical is definitely worth the wait. Comprised of vocalist Murray, John Fahnestock on bass, Chris Shy on guitar, and drummer Will Hunt, White Noise Owl is a Hard Rawk supergroup whose collective members have held positions in too many important underground bands of the late ’90’s and ’00’s to name here. Their debut full-length manages to separate themselves from any one of the genres they may have been synonymous with previously and transcend to this new level of musical excellence.
The instant “Maybe Its Time” kicks off with Hunt’s drums battling alongside Shy’s twangy riffs, an anthem of scorching intent is already apparent. Couple that with Murray switching between pained wails and a smooth delivery as Fahnestock rumbles off some luscious low end tones beside him and the quartet is already proving themselves to be beyond anything fans would expect given their history.
“Angry Man” is wholly indicative of the overall WNO sound with Hunt’s massive drums thundering a path towards Murray’s emotive pipes while “Is Anyone Listening” continues that trend and is heartfelt and solid in its’ own right, ushering in a different sound (Life On Planet 9’s acoustic album vibes run rampant on this one) with Murray as the shining star and crooning his ass off.
The tracks from their debut EP (2014’s Until We Meet Again) weave seamlessly throughout and fit in nicely to paint a bigger soundscape here in the context of Condition Critical. “Feed” is lifted up by the solid grooves from Fahnestock and Hunt while “Bomber” thrives thanks to Shy’s rip-roarin’ shreds and Murray’s sweeping choruses. Elsewhere, “Are You Breathing?” lets Murray really wail while “End Over End” is a new alt-rawk classic that fills the gap in Staind’s absence from the scene.
“I Know You Know” is seemingly simple but builds off of that perceived notion with subtle bombast as a foundation and Murray’s penchant for witty wordplay at the forefront. After listening to the ten tracks that came before, one can only hope that “This Has Just Begun” is a declaration of intent rather than a fluke but, regardless, the results are no less powerful with Shy shimmering during this seven minute ending rager as Murray pulls out all the stops vocally, Hunt drives it home with another ferocious battering and Fahnestock’s bass shakes the base.
Condition Critical is available everywhere, finally, now! You can stream it or download it by clicking here or here. For the latest on White Noise Owl, follow them on the interwebs by clicking here or here.