By Susan Bonicillo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 8, 2005
There will never be a band that could ever command the same stage presence in the way that Led Zeppelin or Queen did in their time. Yet there's always some upstart band that thinks it's the next big-arena rock god.
For a death squad they seem markedly short staffed, but Mike Brewer and Colin Frazier, the duo that makes up The Kola Koca Death Squad, aspire to be one of the bands that succeed where others have failed. But judging by the work on this album, they're just not ready to take on that responsibility as the successors to Jimmy Paige and crew.
It's a worthy effort, but The Kola Koca Death Squad never quite clinches the emotion and energy of the genre they're trying to break into. Think of it as arena rock but without the sincerity. Or the bite. Or the nastiness.
The problem with KKDS is mainly with its instrumentation and delivery. Both Brewer and Frazier are excellent musicians technically, but they never register a strong emotional response when they're really trying to rock out.
The Kola Koca Death Squad
6 out of 10
Only in the song "W.T.F." do they come close to delivering the heavy stuff. They aren't epic rock, but they do have other strengths. Lead singer Brewer may insert the right expletive when needed and they still produce a monstrous sound for emphasis, but it's just not believable.
However, once you get past their versions of the monster rock ballad, they actually show more personality and presence.
The blues-inspired rock songs show more of their strengths and abilities as musicians. The narrative "Sadie Gray" is one of their more powerful tracks. It's understated with great storytelling ability.
Brewer's guitar playing is technically precise and tight. If you thought that the guitar solo was dead, think again. Brewer exhibits a great talent, which at times can be meandering with no sense of resolution. In addition, his vocals never quite reach deep down to resonate with his audience. At times forced and faked, one wants to believe him in his angst but it just doesn't work.
What The Kola Koca Death Squad needs to realize is what its strengths are. It'll never be epic. Try a different genre and leave the arena rock to the masters.