Living in Southeastern Pennsylvania in the 90's and early 00's, I was a big fan of CKY. You might remember CKY from both their close association with the folks over at MTV's Jackass and their skateboarding videos that are seen by many now as both legendary and essential.
I still fondly remember scuffling with Johnny Knoxville as he attempted to jump into the crowd from the balcony overhang at a CKY show at the esteemed Trocadero Theater (RIP) in Philadelphia back when Johnny was still doing those types of stupid things. CKY, in its heyday, was a band with solid songwriting that blended elements of punk, metal and pop that often acted as the soundtrack to so many folks interested in outdoor activities that involved scooters, skateboards, rollerblades and shenanigans. Deron Miller (now also in Malevolent Creation) was a big part of the band's sound and he continues his musical endeavors with the band 96 Bitter Beings, who released Camp Pain back in 2018. Now, with five years in the making, this band (based in LA, not PA) has returned with Synergy Restored on Nuclear Blast Records.
There's a lot to like on Synergy Restored and if you were (or are) a fan of CKY, this record is a must own. Song structures are similar with lots of catchy choruses mixed with just the right amount of angst and urgency. While it's a heavy record, it doesn't overwhelm and it doesn't rely on heft and speed to make its point.
"Vaudeville's Revenge" is a groovy opener that has CKY written all over it. It's fuzzy and visceral but also grounded. Lots of stellar guitar playing, great melody and some lush backing vocals demonstrates the care in songcraft and hooks you right from the get-go. Just check out these riffs!
One of the things I love about this record are the songs that have the heft; that have the riffs but also have the pop and rock sensibilities. This is apparent in the clever "Fire Skyline" that has Miller holding back just a bit on the guitars and letting his voice really drive the track not being afraid to use his ability to hit that upper register. Now, the lyrics, in an interesting juxtaposition, are actually about setting Hollywood on fire… in the literal sense. Signature Deron Miller here folks.
"Wish me Dead" is heavy on the fuzz but this time is interspersed with a clean guitar sound and open chords. This band is not afraid to take risks with their sound and these risks really pay off. The lyrics, again, are scalding and the vocal cadence meshes so well with the music here.
Overall, there are some excellent tracks here, solid solos and lots of overall enjoyable material. It's a record that sounds quite well in terms of the production and there isn't much on it that seems out of place. Obviously, those who've been fans of the Deron Miller body of work will love this. However, there's a lot here that's going to draw new folks in as well.