Unless you’re The Toadies, you can’t seem to get away with mod-rock in this town. Heavy riffs and pounding rhythms with vocalists singing melodically about loss, despair, and desperation tend to smack of artifice, of melodrama, of immaturity, of trying too hard, of painting by the numbers instead of being original (which shouldn’t be confused with “being intentionally sloppy”). Over the years, the style has been pulled off only by The Toadies and a handful of other local bands: Flickerstick, Goodwin, Stella Rose, KatsüK, and the North Texas sextet In Memory of Man.
In Memory of Man has just put out a self-titled album, and it’s the best slab of mod-rock to come from these parts over the past few years (and, yes, I know The Toadies released Play.Rock.Music in 2012). You can’t deny the quality of the songwriting or the performances. “Wanted,” anchored by a simple yet effective riff, drives forward like a stoner-rock band’s anthem to muscle cars. In “The Spider,” IMOM conjures up Soundgarden, stopping and starting sharply and breaking down into rumbling toms, with frontman Alex Lilly’s voice rising and falling to reflect the mood shifts.
Along with the distinctly IMOM-ish material (the pianistic “New Eyes,” “No Way Out,” and “Picture Box,” the epic and Goodwin-esque “Where Are You Now”), the album bears a lot of obvious influences. There’s a little latter-day Flickerstick (“Something in the Taste” with its percolating main riff and huge chorus), a little Pink Floyd (the instrumental “WindWalker”), and, yes, a lot of The Toadies (“The Fury (of Rock ’n’ Roll),” “Nothing at All”). In Memory of Man is like what the guys in Pantera might have cooked up once they reached middle age and outgrew the intoxicating death-sex-violence machismo that defines a lot of early-twentysomething rockers.
Recorded with veteran producer Barry Saling at his Arlington garage studio over the course of about two years, the album follows the band’s 2012 debut recording, The Reckoning EP. “When it came time to begin recording new tracks, we decided we wanted to do it as DIY as we could,” guitarist Chad Beck said. “We originally set out to record three new tracks for an EP, but we just kept recording and tweaking until we had 12. We wanted to be able to financially release a complete album and not lose our asses!”
Beck said he and his bandmates soon realized that nothing but an album would suffice. “Not just a single,” Beck said. “Not another EP. We wanted to release a record, because we still remember them. We remember what it meant to dive into your new favorite album and how it would take over your life for weeks on end.”
In addition to more current media, In Memory of Man will be available on vinyl.
“We’re pretty happy with the outcome,” Beck said. “We’re really excited to be able to get out and start playing to support it.”
Featuring members of Fair to Midland, The Feds, The House Harkonnen, Loaded Moses, and Microton, In Memory of Man also is still composing. “We’ve already started writing the next group of songs,” he said. “We’re looking to push [ourselves with] the next record a little bit … but most of all, we’re just looking forward to rockin’ and having a good time.”
In celebration of the new album, In Memory of Man will perform next Saturday at Lola’s Saloon (2736 W. 6th St., 817-877-0666) with two other hard-rocking Fort Worth outfits: The Cosmic Trigger and –– wait for it –– Leroy the Prophet.
That’s right. Leroy is back. After forming in early ’90s as Outlander, the rap-rocking Leroy put out two albums and played with a bunch of huge acts, including Eminem, Kid Rock, NOFX, Sevendust, and The Toadies (natch). After Leroy dissolved, the guys in the band went on to professional careers. Leroy himself, a.k.a. frontman Gabriel Gomez, a.k.a. Leroy Miller, works in microbiology and chemistry for agribusiness. But the band is writing new material, and while there have been occasional reunion shows over the years, a steadier stream of gigs might be on the way.
“We are just excited about playing Fort Worth again,” Gomez said. “We’re so very happy to be coming back for a hometown show.”
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I was able to see In Memory of Man on March 7th @ Trees. Awesome performance! Cant wait for the Lola’s show.