(Endless Bummer Records, cassette, digital download)
Doom Service live up to their diabolical pun of a name. The Burlington band is composed of musical monsters spawned from a stew of melodic punk, is inspired by old horror and sci-fi movie samples, and is seemingly motivated by a burning urge to have fun. The group's latest project, Live From Mount Doom, is a slickly produced seven-song set that celebrates a very '90s sound somewhere between Pennywise and NOFX. As almost any punk would agree, that's not a bad place to be.
Song titles such as "1.21 Gigawatts?! Great Scott!!" and "Welcome to the Hellmouth" signal what listeners are in for here. This is abrasively catchy, heavily referential stuff from a tight band that is having a blast. A haze of "Scooby-Doo" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" jokes contributes to an endearingly loose vibe. And, to borrow another pop-culture reference, the amps are definitely turned up to 11.
Doom Service may not take themselves too seriously, but they do have serious chops. The band has no real lead vocalist, however. Those duties are shared by the members, who perform by credibly, especially by the cheerfully atonal standards of punk rock. More impressive are the guitar pyrotechnics from Justin Gonyea (a former Seven Days designer) on rhythm and Jeff Foran on lead. Without question, they're both in charge on every track here.
Since the days of the Sex Pistols, the bass guitar has often been more seen than heard in punk rock. However, in Doom Service, Roy Larsen is rock-solid against the walls of power chords. And he is locked in with drummer Ryan McGrath, a precision propulsion machine. On this recording, McGrath fills in for original drummer Tyler Daniel Bean, who was out with a foot injury. But the hyper-prolific multi-instrumentalist and songwriter still sneaks onto several songs on backup vocals, along with Eric Wisowaty and Josh Zelazny.
It's fitting that Mount Doom was released on cassette — by Boston label Endless Bummer Records, which was founded by Vermont ex-pat Jim Gray. The format both suits the material and pushes all the right nostalgia buttons. Gonyea's tasteful design work rounds out the retro stylings.
Live From Mount Doom is a fun, fast ride with a bittersweet backstory — Gonyea has moved to Seattle, and Larsen will soon depart for Boston. That's not the end, however. Having emerged from the ashes of a previous band, 10K Volt Ghost, Doom Service will march onward with new members.
Gonyea and Larsen will be missed in the BTV punk scene, but they may have created an unkillable party machine. That's a hell of an appropriate legacy.