Top Dead Centre
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Top Dead Centre

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | SELF
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""Far From Nowhere" CD Review"

CD Review by Sal Serio
January 30 2009
TOP DEAD CENTRE : "Far From Nowhere"
(self released - 2008)

OK listen, I can tell right outta the gate that from time to time I'm going to bring up the names of other bands in this review. And I really don't want to. BUT - - just know going in to this, that if I bring up the name of other bands it's meant as a pretty big compliment - because I'd compare TDC with bands that I like A-L-O-T.

TDC is Top Dead Centre from Ontario. Far From Nowhere is the name of their CD. BUT - - all the way to somewhere, and somewhere big, is more like it. These guys have major potential if they can get heard by the right people.

The interesting thing is, I didn't immediately gravitate to this record. Rather, it was more like it creeped up on me. Probably at first the musical similarities got in the way. I guess that familiarity with ageless hard rock that I've liked from the 70s to the present was a little too safe for me. BUT - - like I say, that was just on the first listen.

I will tell you something about that first listen though. Hitting play and hearing the bad boy metal of "On A Train" smacked me in the forehead like a six foot man walking into a five foot doorframe. Dave Russ' vocal track sounded like Vince Neil after a forty-eight-hour cigarette and whiskey binge, which added to my wooziness. It was fairly intoxicating (if not otherwise eventful) right from the get-go.

I put the CD out of my mind since at that time it was the onset of the holiday season. BUT - - I forgot to take it out of the CD changer and it remained in rotation for a solid six to eight weeks. The disc would pop up out of nowhere while I was playing background music, attending to other things. Every single time I would go... "Who IS this band??" before I'd remember, "Oh yeah, it's the Top Dead Centre CD"! Far From Nowhere was the epitome of 'sleeper' in my 2008 listening experience. After not paying much initial attention, repeated listens eventually landed FFN at a very respectable #7 on my '08 Top Ten list, beating out timeless rock 'n roll nasties like Alice Cooper, Metallica, Buckcherry, Priest, and AC/DC.

My favorite Far From Nowhere tune wound up being "The Bottle Drops", with it's searing slide guitar intro that would make Mick Mars turn his rigid smirk into a full fledged grin. The brutal rhythm section of Wally Z and Rod Albon are beyond tight. I mean, Wally Z's pummeling drum work and staccato fills are just sick. Russ' vocals display an impressive range here too, and the emotion behind the vocal delivery is readily apparent. I'm also a sucker for the Skynyrd-like bridge with more slide guitar set to a marching band drum beat! Gimme more!

There was plenty more to like about the band and what they accomplished on this, their recorded debut. First off, while I'm talking about it, is the quality of the recording itself. The whole sound of this CD is pretty awesome... like it has hit that difficult to obtain midpoint between the crispness of the studio sound and the organic live feel. That quality really benefits Jim McLean's Floydian guitar sound on the dream weaving "End Of Times".

The charisma of some chick's sexy voice over the cocksure riff-heavy swagger of "Slow Down" can't be denied. "Slow Down" may be the CD's prime radio number, with it's accessible Creed/STP/Pearl Jam crowd appeal. Hey! Listen up, you DJ vermin, you. Why aren't you playing this stuff on the radio?

What more can I tell you? When you open this can of worms, they come out painted in an Ozzy/Motley Crue/Aerosmith/Rush rainbow. BUT - - not in a retro way. In more like a "I'm not afraid to let the past show it's presence in the future" way. Which I can relate to. BUT - - and I won't shit you one little bit, Far From Nowhere is a helluva fun ride, straight through to the closing anthemic power ballad "Say Goodbye". Something tells me "nowhere" and "goodbye" won't be subjects Top Dead Centre will be thinking about for long!


Sal Serio
Madison, Wisconsin
Guitarscum Productions

Sal Serio has written for: Maximum Ink (maximunink.com), The Fuze (the-fuze.com), Tommy Bolin Archives (tbolin.com), The Private Times, Sites And Sounds, The Milwaukee Newsletter, Oshkosh Advance Titan, MaximumRocknRoll, and Zeitgeist. - Maximum Ink


"Interview with guitarist Jim McLean"

With a resumé that stretches back to local ‘80s metal demigods
Varga and Mortal Annoyance, Jim McLean has always been a
lauded guitar player’s guitar player.
While he focused on brutal thrash in his youth, the technical
requirements and years of gigging made him one of the area’s
top players. The last part of the ‘90s saw him guide Federal Yellow
into technically proficient hard rock territory but when that band
fizzled out on the verge of their sophomore CD, McLean began
thoughts of taking control of his own brand new finely tuned
juggernaut of rock.

“My influences were across the board musically,” explains
McLean. “I've always been very much into melody and music with
balls to it. I cut my teeth learning Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads,
Neal Schon, and Michael Schenker. Still, playing thrash metal was
great for tight rhythm discipline but I found it a bit confining for
my soloing style. So I made a conscious effort to get back to what
style of playing really moves me –– I still like to crank out the
heavy assed riffs and grooves but I’d like to think they have more
colour and style to them these days. For me, Top Dead Centre
really hits that mark for me.”

With Dave Russ (vocals, acoustic guitar), Wally Z (drums), Rod
Albon (bass, vocals) and Dan Araquel (rhythm guitar) and their
recently released Far From Nowhere debut CD, McLean’s Top
Dead Centre reaches the metaphorical peak of musical fine–
tuning.

“I was hearing something that combines all the influences
that made who I am as a player,” explains McLean about the
musical ideals of the band. “From the aural spaciness of Pink
Floyd with the groove of Deep Purple mixed with the quality of
riffs, hooks and power of Metallica and stirred up in a big soup –
combine that with a modern feel and that would sort of sum up
our sound.
“I’ve always seen the parallel between a great band likened to
a champion high powered performance engine,” muses McLean
on the band name. “It all starts with everything being aligned and
tuned from top dead centre. If not, the motor’s power will be
worthless. So in a nutshell, Top Dead Centre is where it all
begins.”

So after a couple of decades of experience, McLean and
company begin a new chapter in hard rocking – perhaps for more
veteran fans but also for a new legion of metal heads who can
appreciate what TDC are about. In 2009, metal may be as strong
as ever as a culture and TDC are poised to bring their new metal
from Dundas to the masses.
“We are writing music that is satisfying to us, not just from a
musician’s perspective but as listeners as well,” opines McLean.
“It's all about reaching people and hoping there’s something the
listener can come away with. All ages and types of peeps dig it
from old school rockers, to young fans of new type rock, to kids
and guitar freaks alike. There’s definitely something for everyone
on this album.”
“I would like to the band find a wedge somewhere to drop
ourselves into,” he adds. “Build a buzz and solid fan base whether
it be in North America or in Europe where fans of hard rock are
die hard and open to new bands and music. We’re hoping to gig a
lot more and increase our fan base as the internet can only do so
much for promoting a band. One of the best ways of promotion is
the age–old tradition of getting your ass out there and taking the
music to the people.”

Written by: Ric Taylor
View Magazine contributor & Radio host for 93.3 fm CFMU Radio (Hamilton,Ontario) - View Magazine


Discography

Releases:
"Far From Nowhere" - Top Dead Centre (2008)
"Take Another Breath" - Top Dead Centre (2012)

Photos

Bio

Creating a buzz with their first album, having to rebuild their studio after a major flood and replace musicians in the midst of recording, it only seemed fitting that Dundas, Ontario’s Top Dead Centre name their sophomore record Take Another Breath.

After receiving positive reviews of their first disc Far From Nowhere, which garnered them a nomination for “Best Loud/Metal Recording of the Year” at the 2009 Hamilton Music Awards and saw them share stages with acts such as Finger Eleven, David Wilcox and Kim Mitchell, along with heavy rotation on internet radio station playlists, Take Another Breath picks up where the band left off.

Heavy gigging in support of their debut album enabled the band to develop a loyal and dedicated fan base across Southern Ontario, meanwhile garnering a new legion of fans south of the boarder via the internet.

Regarding Far From Nowhere “They come out painted in an Ozzy/Motley Crue/Aerosmith/Rush rainbow BUT – - not in a retro way. In more like a I’m not afraid to let the past show its presence in the future way.” reviews Sal Serio- Maximum Ink Music Magazine, January 2010.

The creatively intense song writing partnership between Jim McLean and Dave Russ continues to deliver quality riffs and hooks with groove heavy power and solid lyrics.

“This (Take Another Breath) is a considerably harder driving album sonically and song wise” says Jim.

After a broken water main flooded out their studio in 2010, the rebuild was on. The departure of band members and the search for replacements in 2010/ 2011, did not deter the forward progress. With the addition of Rob Kemp on guitars and a slamming rhythm section of Elvis Behm and Branch Guenther, they give the band a renewed sense of power and dynamic.

“I’ve always seen the parallel between a great band likened to a champion high powered performance engine,” muses McLean on the band. “It all starts with everything being aligned and tuned from top dead centre. If not, the motor’s power will be worthless. So in a nutshell, Top Dead Centre is where it all begins.”