Robocop – “Demo 2009”

What happens when you watch too many nerdy movies? What happens when you spend too many hours in the Collaborative Media Lab? What happens when the majority of bands in the state of Maine produce God-awful music?

For three UMaine students, you form a band called Robocop. Then you pack a plenitude of creative energy into twelve minutes of madness. Powerviolence is the name of the game: abnormally fast, hardcore blasting combined with groovy riffs of the metal variety. Some call it thrashcore. Yet reflecting guitarist Ryan Page’s approach to music, “to add something that makes it better,” Robocop toss in a sinister dosage of doom.

This is the same Ryan Page who made this paper last semester with his solo project, Body Hammer. His dedication to the guitar and devoted study of experimental music composition in new media help Robocop stand out. He skillfully combines his passion for innovation with homage to bands like Napalm Death and Municipal Waste. Luke Abbott, another stand-up New Media major, proves his skill on the bass to add just as much depth of artistry as of sound. The experimental doom influences of his solo band GiantGiant introduce the record with foreboding force. Tom Bennett’s lightning speed as a drummer matches his technical prowess as a jazz percussionist. All three members shout, growl and scream satire of our silly society.

Right away, Robocop get their point across and take no prisoners. One close listen will tell you these aren’t just a bunch of angry kids wrecking their instruments for its own sake — they know their stuff. Each song combines engaging riffs with irresistibly head-bangable drumming. Thrash metal fans take note. Bursts of speed and groovy chord progressions are book-ended by two trance-inducing doom tracks, the latter drenched in guitar effects.

The demo on its own is fun in small doses, but for those with longer attention spans, I wouldn’t call it a soundtrack to a rainy afternoon. Robocop is a band meant to play live, as the production aims to advertise. It’s merely a lure to see these guys in real life, and boy do they put on a show. Their recent performance at Jester’s in Brewer filled a small space, and a small crowd, with much enthusiasm. They even smashed a guitar on stage just to make an ambiguous political statement.

This short demo is hopefully a taste of what’s to come and surely worth a listen. Download it free from their Web site (robocop.me) or ask for a copy from a band member in nothing other than a brown paper bag. Got to love the underground. Just be warned that Powerviolence isn’t for everybody; if everyone loved Powerviolence, bands like Robocop would lose their purpose, namely, hating on local bands that are more popular than good.

So what does this band have to do with “Robocop” the movie? Absolutely nothing. The band’s moniker has everything to do with the expectation of what only a gaggle of intelligent musicians can create.

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