Over the Top is the name of the band from San Antonio, and it correctly describes the type of music they’re trying to play. Combining a punk attitude to Sabbath-like riffs, the music takes a few tracks to find the right mix. Singer Jason (Chappy) Chapman, guitarists Matt Brown and Eloy Piña Jr., and drummer Ryan Gonzales have created an interesting combination that takes a couple of listens to truly understand. Unsigned (their Facebook page just says “Hahahaha…” as their Record Label), Over the Top has put this album out on Bandcamp, along with their first effort, Slowly We Rock. There isn’t a lot of information about them on the internet, and not having visited San Antonio in years, I’m relying on the information they sent to The Meister.
The album opens with a few bars of guitar and drum solo, leading into a heavy riff. The first track, “Cucuy” is a Hispanic word for the boogieman, immediately shows how this combination of punk and heavy, dark riffs can be difficult to pull off. With song titles like “Drink the Rent” and “Narco Polo,” I was expecting some kind of garage or stoner rock, but they are reaching a bit further. I’ll admit I’m not a fan of Chappy‘s style of singing, which is more like speaking or yelling to a few notes. And on the first few songs, I couldn’t reconcile it with the music. The songs are surprisingly long as well – more of the Sabbath influence – and about half way through I was going to give up, but I’m glad I didn’t.
On the last four songs, they seem to have put it all together. “Shoot the Moon,” ironically a song about taking drunken risks, finally realizes the combination of voice and music with a solid punk sound – high energy, great guitars for the first half of the song, before getting dark and heavy for a long bridge, and a quick but effective solo. Still I think it’s the best on the album. “Sold Our Souls to Smoke a Bowl”, too, is a better match between the music and the singer. Over the Top ends the album with a solid epic, “Taste the Snake.” What for me started a bit rough, ends on a high note.
So if you’re interested in a different-sounding take on heavy guitars and gruff vocals, give it a shot! Or better yet, go see them in San Antonio, where they have some shows lined up this month – including a record release party. Or support new music by buying the album from Bandcamp. I’m looking forward to seeing how this sounds live on my next trip.