The Shrine – Bless Off
The dudes in The Shrine have long hair and wear their influences on their sleeves – well, on their denim jackets that is – and those influences are cool: Black Flag, Thin Lizzy, Suicidal Tendencies, Metallica and sundry proto-hardcore and classic metal bands. And on their second long-player, Bless Off, they do a pretty doggone good job of realizing those influences as well-executed pastiche. This is my kinda music: punk ’n’ metal that’s not so far evolved from rock ’n’ roll that it jettisons riffs, melodies and a beat you can latch onto. So I want to like these dudes, really.
The problem with The Shrine in general and with Bless Off in particular is that the brohemian, stoner dude shtick is such an integral part of the whole package. It’s as if the band is more concerned with propagating an anachronism, the aforementioned brohemian stoner dude thing, than it is on making music that is truly their own.
Granted, The Shrine do their thing well. The songs are fun, the leads are sick, and the music is tight enough to keep a basement full of skaters, stoners and skins thrashing well into the night. But the band seems so doggedly “authentic” that it casts a pall over the whole affair. Sure, tracks like “Destroyers,” “Tripping Corpse” and the paean to Black Flag’s Chuck Dukowski, “The Duke,” pretty much shred. But there’s a fine line between just having cool influences and delving into the dreaded clichés of Wayne’s World and Dude, Where’s My Car? The Shrine crosses that line too many times.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on these guys. Bless Off is fun to listen to, and maybe that’s all I should expect. Maybe recreating the sounds/looks/shticks of bygone eras is the best we can hope for in the present been-there, done-that era of postmodernism. But if that’s the case, well, then we might as well admit that rock ’n’ roll is done. I’m not willing to make that admission. I want more, and more, and more…