Renderware's only EP "Renderware = Rock"! As tied in with this month's surprise reunion of their successor punk band Talk Shit at The Live 705 Local Show, Renderware's only album was released early into their run on June 15th, 2004, though surviving details on it's original release are minimal, and remained that way even after the album saw it's Bandcamp re-release for it's 10th anniversary in 2014. Renderware are represented on this EP by singer and current stand-up comedian Jordan Foisy, Talk Shit bandmates Marc Lafrance & Adam Sauve on guitar and drums, fellow guitarist Thomas Whitney, and Adam's ex-Nebraska Arms bandmate Wayne Watkins (now of Northwest) on bass.
Note that we had considered reviewing an album by A Dire Setback frontman Larry Babic's old pop punk band A Fall From Innocence this month too, given that they debuted this month, but I only have their second album, so Renderware's debut won out on that basis (A.F.F.I. are still in the queue though!). Though long since out of print, "Renderware = Rock" is available on Bandcamp via a "name your price" model, but consider paying something to help support the guys' work! With six songs running at just over 12 minutes, let's kick things off for this review!
"Intro", which features the raspy-voiced Jordan describing the band an their sound in largely spoken word while the band plays an upbeat and fast instrumental behind him. Renderware have often described themselves as "Motorhead meets Tom Waits", and the latter rears it's head here, but as it's an introductory track to set the mood, it doesn't have the substance of what's to come. Next is "The Halls", which at 2:59, is surprisingly the EP's longest track. It opens with slow and deliberate bass from Wayne with the band gradually filling in, eventually leading to a mid-tempo rocker that has a chugging riff and Jordan's first true sung lyrics, though still in his usual raspy and gravely drawl. The guitar work here is good and has a punk flavour, and the vocals do fit the material, but may be an acquired taste for some listeners. Still, this is a solid beginning though for fans of this unique quartet!
Third is "Washed Up Celebrity", which has a nice drum opening from Adam and a faster punk rhythm that genre fans will appreciate, but the verses are a little odd here, particularly from the often very artficial-sounding backing vocals and a verse cadence that doesn't always mesh well with the riff. I'd have dumped the backing vocals entirely, I don't find they add anything to the song. The brief guitar solo is a nice change of pace though, and punk fans should like this song while it lasts! Then we have "Baby's Momma" (spelled as "Babie's Momma" on MySpace), which is arguably Renderware's best known song, and one of their fastest yet. The song overdoes the drum fills during verses, and the break midway through where Jordan screams "Oh my baby's momma!" is an odd diversion, but this is a fun and catchy number that gets the job done musically, and I do wish they'd lengthened it a bit!
"Breakin' Me Down", which is a slower, more hard rock-style number that doesn't play to the guys' musical strengths as well, but Jordan's singing is a nice & gritty match to the riff here, and the spoke word section where he talks with an uncredited woman does fit into the song a bit better here! The fade-out at the end comes out of nowhere, but in terms of structure and chemistry, it's an effective song with solid drumming and bass in particular! The EP closes with "Blue Collar Love Song", which seems like it wouldn't be a fit to Renderware's genre, but don't worry, it's no ballad! In fact, it plays like their other originals, and shares some structural similarities with "Baby's Momma", sans the mid-verse drum fills. The chorus is repetitive, but for fans of their gravely speed metal, it's a nice capper to their only EP, and plays it close to their comfort zone!
So, what are my final thoughts on Renderware's only EP? Overall, it is definitely an acquired taste compared to more traditional punk or metal bands, but if you can get into Jordan Foisy's raspy, Waits-esque singing, you'll get some enjoyment out of this one! While I admittedly found Renderware to have more of a punk influence than Motorhead, they have a good chemistry and talent levels, especially with Marc Lafrance & Thomas Whitney's solid riffs, Wayne Watkins' professional bass skill, and Adam Sauve's reliably aggressive drumming, and when most effectively used, Jordan's vocals were a unique asset to give these songs more of an edge! That said, the songs can have structural flaws that impct things more than they might otherwise given the songs' length, like abrupt endings, extensive drum fills, and odd backing & spoken word vocals. However, keep in mind that everyone in the band has grown and matured in music in the 12 years since, so don't be too harsh, all things considered.
Regardless, look for a new CD review to close the year next month, and stay tuned for more news soon! Thanks everyone!