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Action Over Drive - "Dare" (CD)

Action Over Drive - "Dare" CD cover image

"Dare" track listing:

1. Mould (3:13)
2. Push And Hit (3:00)
3. Since That Time (3:50)
4. Got Wheels (3:48)
5. Without A Doubt (3:24)
6. Down That Hole (3:18)
7. Believe (3:14)
8. Quick Fix (3:07)
9. Interlube (1:30)
10. React (4:12)

Hidden Track:
11. Take The Lead (4:00)

Reviewed by on April 13, 2009

"The final listed track, 'React,' is so much better than the rest of the album, largely due to improved sound quality, that had the entire album sounded as good, it would have garnered a much higher rating."

Sludge metal may be known for its heavy distortion and lots of feedback, but Montreal’s Action Over Drive takes that to new levels with their second release, "Dare." The sound quality of this album makes you feel like you’re trapped in a tunnel, surrounded by half a dozen amps cranked up to ten. But, for fans of sludge and stoner metal, Action Over Drive provides a fix, in a world where these genres seemed to be dying out.

"Dare" may not offer up anything new, but it is a solid mix of the punk, industrial, hardcore, and southern rock elements that make up sludge. There’s also a lot of bass, something that is a throwback to stoner metal, and is unfortunately absent in much of today’s music. The only problem with it is, because of the excessive distortion, the bass has a tendency to sound more like a lion’s roar, particularly in "Without A Doubt" and "Down That Hole."

The album plays almost as if halfway through recording, the band realized how distorted they sounded, and so they adjusted their equipment and moved on, without revisiting the first six tracks. The seventh track, "Believe," is much cleaner, though still well within the fold of sludge metal, and the result is that for the first time you can actually decipher the lyrics. Its follow-up, "Quick Fix," affirms your belief that Action Over Drive has the potential to be a pretty good sludge band, and by the end of the album, you’re pretty pleased with their sound.

The final listed track, "React," is so much better than the rest of the album, largely due to improved sound quality, that had the entire album sounded as good, it would have garnered a much higher rating. Unfortunately, whether from lack of funds or guidance, much of the album is left stuck in the mud. The hidden track, "Take The Lead," is another good selection, though it sounds a lot like "Got Wheels," minus the grinding guitar.

True to form, Action Over Drive’s vocals are slightly melodic, but not something you could call pretty. At best, vocalist Rick Devault sounds like a young Mick Jagger, but most of the time he simply shouts his lyrics. Bassist Eric Frendas plays the deep and trembling lines I really love, and once the amp situation gets resolved, gives a good performance. The drums provided by Sylvain Millard are good enough, with the exception of his cymbal frenzy on "Push And Hit," but are pretty simple.

Action Over Drive may still need some guidance and polishing to reach its full potential, but with a better production, they stand a good chance at being a respected sludge act. Though this album may be one to skip, future releases will probably be well worth their cost.

Highs: The final two tracks are good, quality sludge metal.

Lows: The first half of the album’s production is overly distorted and full of feedback.

Bottom line: Despite poor production quality, the music is prime sludge and stoner metal.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)