Neolythyc: Teen Virtuosos Reinventing Heavy Metal
Last Thursday, this reporter received an email from his editor, inquiring if he would like to go check out a young, new, heavy-metal outfit from Fort Lauderdale called Neolythyc. Admittedly, I was a little tentative, to say the least. But the saplings, a four-piece originally from Miami, already had a publicist, and said publicist took the time to send me a couple of the band's tunes.
I listened to one of the songs, "In Between the Lines" (look for it after the jump) and was impressed with its sharp riffs, bombastic vocals, and the overall professional nature of the recording. It gave the impression that these kids were more than just a high school heavy-metal band practicing in a warehouse and playing at keg parties. They sounded grimly serious about their craft.
With a publicist and a label -- World Records -- already backing them, we concluded that this hard-rocking teen band was a legitimate enough endeavor to gamble an evening away.
And when I made my way down to Kilmo Doome's newest venture, the Native Florida Tap Room and Music Hall, on Saturday night, I discovered just how legitimate the four musicians who make up Neolythyc are. Forget any preconceived notions you might have about what a heavy-metal outfit in their teens might sound like. Neolythyc proved not to be sloppy but many more levels of sophisticated than this reporter could have ever imagined.
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For starters, the band's frontman/lead vocalist is a singing drummer named Mark Crespo. When you see a guy belting out a melodic chorus while still maintaining a tight beat on the skins, it's almost like a carnival act. Drumming while screaming your lungs out in synch is no easy feat. You just cannot keep your eyes off Crespo as he performs. He has that kind of allure.
At 16, Crespo demonstrates the kind of composure of a performer twice his age, possessing an enthralling voice that is as dexterous as the man himself. On "In Between the Lines," we realized that Crespo has the perfect pitch for a melodic metal band: He can go into deep Glenn Danzig-like baritone croons one minute and switch up into cathartic grindcore-esque yelps the next.
By his side is 17-year-old guitarist Angelo Gonzalez. It would not be an exaggeration to call Gonzalez an Eddie Van Halen in the making. We overheard the word virtuoso thrown around a few times while he struck the complex higher frets that make up the bridge on the ominous number "Live a Lie." Gonzalez jitters at times during his intricate finger play; that and his skinny frame reminded us of Ian Curtis in the throes of an epileptic fit.
On "Yesterday," a peppy number with tons of pop potential, Gonzalez goes less virtuosic and more middle-of-the-road rock, emitting chirpy chords that would have sounded magnificent on defunct South Florida station 93 Rock (alas, this band's balls-to-the-wall rock would have been perfect for those airwaves.)
Together, Crespo and Gonzalez make a fantastic, walloping one-two punch. We would be remiss, however, if we didn't give props to 16-year-old rhythm guitarist Eric Ruiz and 17-year-old bassist Jerry Caceres. While not in the spotlight as much as Crespo and Gonzalez, these two are key components in rounding out Neolythyc's pseudo-classical, classic rock-meets-nü-metal attack. This is a boy band for listeners with big cojones.
The band has an intriguing backstory too. One year in the making, they are the musical spawn of Gerald Baumann (who goes by the nickname GB), frontman for early '90s almost-famous Fort Lauderdale band Ordinary Language. GB started his own label, World Records, a few years back as a vehicle to put out the recently reunited Ordinary Language's tunes. Unfortunately, Ordinary Language went on hiatus, but that led to GB stumbling upon Neolythyc one day in the studio and becoming reinvigorated with rock 'n' roll.
GB decided to forgo any ambitions with his former unit and focus all his energies on Neolythyc's work. For the past 12 months, GB has driven all the way to Coconut Grove to pick up the foursome and take them to World Record's recording studio in Fort Lauderdale. Oftentimes, he even flips the bill and has them spend weekends at a time in a hotel for three-day-long recording binges.
The guys in Neolythyc spent an entire year in the studio honing their skills before Saturday's show. In that time, the band completed its debut EP, March of a Thousand Sons, which GB hopes to release in the next month or so. On World Records' website, GB describes Neolythyc as "making music the rock and roll gods would dance to." While that's a bit of an overstatement, the young four-piece did impress with its Pantera, Alice in Chains, and Joe Satriani metal mélange.
After the show, I walked across Hollywood Boulevard to Anniversary Park and spent some time with the talented pubescent musicians. Look for our interview with the guys from Neolythyc tomorrow. In the meantime, sample their crackerjack rock below.
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