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The Disquiet's Kingdom (self-released)

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Given the current ’90s nostalgia boom, the new album from Columbia’s The Disquiet may have arrived at just the right time. There is an unmistakably retro feel to several tracks, even as the production places the band squarely within the realm of contemporary hard rock.

Opener “Nothing Left” is a prime example of how the band writes its way out of being pegged as simply a nostalgia act. The positive spin of the chorus (“I believe in the good in people / I refuse to believe that there’s nothing left”) is juxtaposed against grunge-era nihilism on the verses, and it’s all set to a driving pop-metal sound that evokes emo days gone by. Conversely, “Shudder” is this set’s radio-ready anthem, with a decidedly commercial grade pop-punk approach.

Singer Alex Roberts pulls out his best Chris Cornell voice on the swinging, crunchy, guitar-laden “Tolrah,” and the chorus (“Even if I’m not worth fighting for / At least that’s what you say / I am not a bitter man”), added to the fact that the title is “Harlot” backwards, makes the listener wonder about the backstory.

Recorded with Kenny McWilliams at Archer Avenue, that facility’s reputation for pristine, clean sounds suits the intense, yet well-mannered hard rock of The Disquiet well. Musically, the band is tight enough to employ drastic shifts in melody and tempo on songs like “Wait A Minute,” which veers into proggy, near-Rush territory.

If you’re going to go retro-’90s, it’s probably better to do it like The Disquiet — with enough modern methods to overcome the nostalgia tag, and the ability to mix things up from song to song.

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