In recent years, there's been a surge within the hard rock and heavy metal communities in the number of acts with a woman leading the charge at the front of the stage. It's a welcome change to what has been a boys club, at least in the U.S., for the better part of five decades.
The latest entry into the club actually comes from the Great White North. Since she was 15, Molly Rennick has been working to bring her creation, Living Dead Girl, to fruition in a way that she felt captured her spirit. Now, at 21, Rennick's band is releasing their first full-length album, weighing in at 11 track and 40-plus minutes.
I can't speak for Rennick, but I think album, "Exorcism," is an incredible sound that blends more styles of music than I can put my finger on. My first take was that it was Halestorm meets Kittie, but then tracks like "Beautiful" come in and sound like there's a fight over the microphone between Avril Lavigne and Maria Brink (of In This Moment). It sounds like a combination that shouldn't come within a thousand miles of each other, but it works so well, what can you say? You can't argue when it just works.
Joining Rennick on this adventure you'll find guitar work from John Ellis, the driving, thundering drums of Ryan Claxton, and Jordan Storring holding down the low end on bass. When you put them all together, it sounds like a band that's been there and done that for decades rather than picking up and delivering this kind of energy on their first outing.
"Poltergeist" comes in with an industrial sound that would make Trent Reznor proud. Probably the second-most down-tempo song on the album, but that doesn't mean it's any softer. It's a grinding, driving track that just keeps hammering on you.
The album closer, "Stronger," is probably the closest thing you'd come to calling a song in this genre a ballad. It kicks into a heavier melody about halfway through, but it's a song about self-empowerment. "The person I want to be, I will become her, now that I'm stronger." The message hits home for anyone, and the song would work with the full, screaming band backing Rennick up, or if it was just a single light hitting someone with an acoustic guitar. That's a mark of a good tune.
The lead-off track, already released as a single, is called "Alive," and if you don't feel that way after you hear it, there's not much hope. "When was the last time you felt alive?" the chorus asks. The answer should be the moment you hit play.
There's a sub-genre of music that's called power-pop. I think "Villain" on this album is going to redefine that term. The main verses are delivered with an almost-terrifying snarly rap style, while the chorus comes in like a duet between the aforementioned Lavigne and Ash Costello of New Year's Day. "If you want me to play the villain in the story, that's exactly what I'll do, and I'm not sorry." And just as a light-hearted note, you can hear the Canadian come out in this line, because Rennick makes "sorry" rhyme with "story."
The album is produced by Mitchell Marlow, who produced albums for Papa Roach, In This Moment, and All That Remains among others. It was mastered by Howie Weinberg, who's fingerprints show up on albums from everyone you know, including Metallica, Prince, U2 Nirvana, and Thirty Seconds to Mars to name a (very, very) few. The result is a crisp, clean, incredible sound that flows over you like the latest release from a veteran act as opposed to a newcomer's debut effort.
Living Dead Girl is definitely a force that will have to be reckoned with, and "Exorcism" isn't the first foot in the door so much as fist through a window that's going to grab you and shake you.
"Exorcism" from Living Dead Girl lands on digital platforms on Friday, with CDs, vinyl, and other goodies all available at livingdeadgirl.ca.