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Initially, when this turned up for review, I thought, hey, a new Pist.On album, the reactivated US 90s metal band, who reformed 4 years back. Alas, that wasn't the case at all; rather, this is Piston, a new Birt-retro-rock outfit with their arsenal of nostalgic fuelled mimicry. But do they bring anything new, fresh or exciting to an already oversaturated scene? Fresh? No. Exciting? There’s promise here, for sure.

Like most of the retro rock bands around, it's all hideously clichéd, yet Piston don't ever seem to fully embrace and own the clichés; they don't seem to be able to transform them into their own aesthetic. As such, with little identity of its own, there's a real danger their debut album could get swamped within the myriad of other retro-rock offerings out there. Which would be a shame if this does transpire to be the case, because there's a ton of promise to be heard in the songs; they're just not fully realised and reified in the arrangements and delivery. It feels like conviction is teased but ultimately lacking. On the whole. There are some exceptions.

Generally, the musicianship is solid but not outstanding. It's all pretty much bread-and-butter stuff. There are no standout performances, as such; rather, a bunch of guys giving their chops a good old workout within the confines of their chosen, and seemingly accepted, stylistic boundaries. However, much of the music is decent enough, foot-tapping stuff, with some great melodies and refrains. And it seems their pastiche of retro rock, while generally rooted in the likes of Aerosmith, AC/DC, Poison, Led Zep, et al, even allows for a touch of Rod Stewart worship in ‘Carry Me Home’, with vocalist Rob Angelico sounding ever so reminiscent of the gavel-voiced stalwart.

To be honest, the album gets off to a somewhat shaky, weak start for me, with opener, 'Dynamite', and its "come on, come on" chants conveying an all too cheesy vibe. A tad cringey, this one. From then on, though, matters get significantly better. Significantly clichéd, as I already noted, but far less cheesy. Highlights? Dare I say, Piston do down-tempo, brooding rock ever so well, of which ‘Rainmaker’ and ‘Leave if You Dare’ are fine examples. And the album ends on a strong note with ‘Into the Light’, which sees the band dip their toes into alt-rock territory. Love this one.

The production's good enough, as is the mix, but both could’ve been better. A little more punchy bite is required, perhaps. Musically, Piston are certainly above the level of a high-end pub rock band, although seem to be lacking a consistency in their identity which they’ll perhaps need to propel themselves into the next level. Maybe I’m wrong. Time will tell.
Review by Mark Holmes
13th Sept 2019
1) Dynamite; 2) Rainmaker
3) Go Now
4) Carry Us Home
5) One More Day
6) Beyond Repair
7) Leave if You Dare
8) Blow it Away
9) Let Us Rise
10) Into the Night
11) One More Day (Remix)
12) Rainmaker (Remix)
"Piston do down-tempo, brooding rock ever so well, of which ‘Rainmaker’ and ‘Leave if You Dare’ are fine examples."