Genres don’t mean a whole lot in 2018. Indie is an umbrella, everything is “alternative,” and nothing is truly popular. Genres have become overly-broad concepts used to categorize music in order to give new listeners a primer for what an album will sound like. One of the many reasons why the importance of genres has been lessened is that they rarely ever encapsulate an artist’s actual range. It’s rare that a band will be fully committed to one genre, in all likelihood they have a wide variety of influences, styles, and nuances that all exist somewhere between the inherently-broad lines of genre categories.
Perhaps because of this grey area, it’s all the more refreshing when a band commits. I mean really commits. Custom is a rock band, full-stop. Hailing from Seattle, this quintet of musicians is committed to making straight-up Rock music with a capital “R.” No frills, no fuss, and no distractions, just rock. Custom’s fourth album Brace For Impact is nearly upon us, and it wastes no time jumping straight into the action.
Within seconds, opening track “No Regrets” bowls the listener over with a shredding guitar riff that offers little time for recovery. Soon the bass and drums jump into the mix, laying down a hard-charging rhythm that paves the way for lead singer David Lyon’s entrance. Painting a picture of a carefree, hedonistic youth, the song works its way up to an anthemic chorus that sounds downright Bruce Dickinson-esque.
As much as Brace For Impact is steeped in “rock,” the band is able to tackle a wide range of vastly-different topics within the album’s 29-minute running time. Things get cerebral on “Drugstore Prophet” as the group tackles the dangers of the pharmaceutical industry in between powerful rolling choruses. Meanwhile “Lonely Girl” is a personal track that zooms down to a micro level depicting one person’s escape from depression, abuse, and personal strife. Similarly, “15 To Life” offers a four-minute vignette of a reformed criminal that climaxes with a sorrowful guitar solo and a vocal performance that drips with lament.
The penultimate track “On Me” is a late-album highlight that also serves as the album’s lead single. Available as a free download from the group’s Bandcamp page, the song is an ode to the rockstar life featuring a dexterous bassline, fast-paced drumming, and a high-flying guitar solo. All of this is wrapped around a catchy chorus that evokes equal parts Asteroid and Buckcherry for a memorable and hard-drinking rock song.
With hundreds of live shows under their belt, over a decade of experience, and soon four albums, Brace For Impact makes it clear that Custom is steadfast in their mission. Embodying everything about the rock and roll lifestyle, Custom's upcoming album is adventurous, boisterous, and most importantly: fun. It’s rock music that explodes with life from its first seconds until its last notes. It’s everything the genre was built on, and that’s sadly a rarity in 2018.