Being a Decibel Geek writer and editor for the Decibel Geek website, I get inundated with music. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and keep it coming. I have discovered tons of bands this way and so have many of the Decibel Geek staff writers that review the album submissions that I receive. But sometimes it’s nice to take a break and revisit some old favorites, the classics if you will. Something that I just don’t do often enough. The bands and albums that were constant soundtracks of Meister youth.
The band Gruntruck and their 1992 Push album is one such band. Up here in Canada, like I’m sure many of us did, I got my heavy rock music fix through the Canadian MTV clone MuchMusic and their program The Power Hour, which in later years changed into The Power 30. The Power 30 was a daily ritual after school and I often recorded on VHS the half hour program if I wasn’t able to catch it. It’s thanks to this program that I heard the songs “Tribe” and “Crazy Love” by a band called Gruntruck. Their Push album quickly became an addition to the collection and a staple in my shit beater car’s expensive stereo.
The band got together in Seattle in 1989 and had the grunge label attached to them. Perhaps a good portion of that “grunge” label came from their formation in the Seattle Scene, but while that’s certainly present, I find many elements of hard rock and metal in the compositions. Original members were Ben McMillan (vocals/guitar), Scott McCullum (drums), Tom Niemeyer (guitar) and Tim Paul (bass). Gruntruck issued their debut album, Inside Yours, in 1990 (re-issued by Roadrunner Records in 1991). After that came Push, the album containing “Tribe” and “Crazy Love”, the two I’d heard courtesy of MuchMusic, in 1992. Four years later and a different lineup saw an EP, Shot, Illusion, New God, surface, but unfortunately that is the last recording for Gruntruck.
During the height of their popularity they toured with Alice and Chains and Pantera in 1992 and 1993 respectively, but they had a legal battle with Roadrunner to contend with. After winning the case and being granted the contract termination they were seeking, they returned with the EP. By this point, Josh Sinder replaced drummer Scott McCullum and Alex Sibbald in place of Tim Paul. The late 90’s saw the original classic four man team reunited and a string of well-received shows in 2000.
Sadly, in 2008 founder/vocalist/guitarist Ben McMillan died at age 46 from complications related to diabetes.
The album opens up with the riffy beginnings of “Tribe” before the drums kick in and the song explodes wide open. The riff barrage continues throughout the track, over top of the steady beat in Gruntruck‘s highest charting single. A great track but took me a few listens to really get it. What pushed (no pun intended or was there?) me toward album purchase was “Crazy Love”. An ominous kind of beginning and some tribal sort of sounding drums throughout add to its catchiness. Other standout tracks include “Machine Action” and the methodical slower pace of “Above Me”. The darkly flavored “Body Farm” and the opening bass groove of “Slow Scorch”.
The whole collection is chocked full of riffs, every song another playground for grooves and hooks. The album is no slouch on runtime with 12 songs, only two under the four-minute mark, but most quite high above it. It was originally released October 6, 1992, by Roadrunner Records.
Push is an album that will stay with me for life I assume, even if it doesn’t see regular or constant rotations any longer. Inside Yours and Shot, Illusion, New God are also fantastic musical collections, but for me it’s Push that’s the crowning glory of this band that should have been bigger.