Artist: Optimus Rex
Optimus Rex officially formed in 2013, though its history goes back much further. Songwriter Nick Stergos and Bassist Jeremy Carpenter have been churning out music together in and around St. Louis since 2001. St. Louis might just be the perfect locale to explore the sunny realm of musical expression. This latest effort “Embers” is a dark-witty but truthful collection of melodic rock that reveals all the a-typical conventions of alt-rock, creating a solid yet catchy album. The first few tracks “Crawling and Choking” and “With Hunt” Walls” are impressive kickoff statement. It does a great job of starting things off and gets one ready for what’s around the corner, which in itself presents a stunning 9 track line-up. As the album slowly runs the gamut it has much to offer in the way of melodic music and captivating vocals that make the listener feel like they’re in feature film. Musical comparables include bands like The Mindless Self Indulgence, Sum 41, Electric Six. One cannot help but admire artists with strong songwriting skills and truthful conviction all the while demonstrating a strong a level of creativity. One senses a growing ambition as this album advances. Stergo’s appealing vocals and “on the mark” songwriting leave a lasting impression and with intellectually stimulating lyrics provide a very real and powerful source of inspiration overall. These 2 are not afraid to put their toe into the truthful side of the pool shall we say. Some songs give you a sense of growth-wisdom and progressing maturity. The musicianship pulls out all the stops, and the overall production value tows the line. All in all a great set of songs.
Notable standouts for me include: Witch Hunt, Finding Your Breath, This is Not a Door and Misery.
If you want a shock to the system via an easy-going pop-rock staple there’s something on this record for you. Obviously many will identify with Optimus Rex, and perhaps this is what fans will like about them. Having said that this CD is for almost anyone as it caters to modern alt-folk listeners. Some of this plays into strong marketability. Some pieces present more modern sounding overtones but despite the flavor there are still traditional Alternative-Rock textures from earlier eras. This is really what makes “Embers” by Optimus Rex so enticing to me personally – the wide spectrum of appeal. In this aspect both Stergos/Carpenter are both quintessential artists. “Embers” also grants you rare access to peer into the tormented soul of a gifted artist – from his brilliant perspective shall we say.
Final Rating: 8/10
– Josh Bahlenhorst