Gimmicks don’t excite us anymore. Trends swell and crest and wash away. Great bands possess power in the intangible space between competing forces—it’s there that Cylinder will take you and leave you for dead--a place where somber tones contrast with an uplifting power. Where raw aggression clashes with technical proficiency and gives rise to a massive sound. A place where lyrics avowing heart come from a voice that is simultaneously willing to tear yours out. In short, Cylinder’s music represents what we need: a complex soul and uncaged spirit.
“We’re straight up, no bullshit, hard rock,” says Nick Boyd, guitarist for Cylinder. The Santa Cruz based band, rounded out by vocalist Shane Geslin, bassist Mike King and drummer Will Allen aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but rather take modern rock to its most dangerous edges— deeper, darker, more defiant.
Like fighters in the ring, rock n’ roll bands make their names on stage and Cylinder’s elevating live show has been known to leave audiences punch-drunk and staggering. With fists in the air, heads banging and not an inch of stage wasted, it’s as visually powerful as it is musically. These frenzied performances have drawn a large fan-base, critical praise and awards. In 2008, they won Northern California’s largest battle of the bands, Your Music Olympics (spanning San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose, Monterey and Santa Cruz), earning Cylinder the title “Nor-Cal’s Platinum Band.”
“Fueled by Fire” is the type of hard rock album Aristotle would like. The great philosopher saw virtue in the “middle disposition,” the ground between defect and excess. That’s the greatness in Cylinder’s debut, it has the grit, rawness and intensity of a violent basement show matched with the clarity and coherence of a studio epic. It’s rare that a band finds that balance on the first stab, but that’s what makes Cylinder special.
Produced by Tim Narducci, former frontman of the band Systematic (Elektra Records), “Fueled By Fire” is a colossus. Unwieldy drums, grinding bass, sinuous guitar riffs and an honest, yet aggressive baritone voice come together in a powerful declaration of the band member’s working class lifestyles. These are songs about life, written by men who have earned their living through blood, sweat and tears.