Initial transmissions is a collection of the very diverse six songs written by Chicago-based rock duo Wild Gravity. The songs had been written way before the musical duo Ken Ugel (guitars) and Phil O’Reilly (vocals) met but the record still manages to sound coherent and have great chemistry that made me feel like I’m listening to an established band that’s been in the industry for a decade at least. So how do these six tracks stand their ground and what makes each track unique?
The first track Comatose has an atmospheric synth intro followed by heavy and down-tuned guitars. They used an odd time signature with very hard-hitting drums and then we have a short clean phrase that Phil sings the lines “So much pain and so much hate” over gracefully. The dark dramatic timbre of his baritone voice is not very typical in neither modern nor classic rock but it matches the down-tuned and chuggy guitars perfectly, the song will resonate with you on so many levels and it’s a good show of their songwriting abilities of course when the first track is not a standard 4×4.
The second track Overcome is where they strongly channel their Royal Blood and Alter Bridge influences. Fast-paced and face-melting melodic guitar riffs begin the song straight away and slightly higher vocals than the previous track make this one a headbanger and I can guess this will be the track they use to make fans go wild at live shows. I’m thoroughly impressed by how Alternative Rock/Metal elements could fit with Classic Rock n Roll elements in such a beautiful manner. There’s even a keyboard-guitar battle of some sort near the end of the track for you prog music lovers out there. Mr Ken Ugel knows and respects the classic Rock ancestry and background without being afraid of taking a creative leap of faith.
The third track Drift is the anthemic one out of the bunch. The vocals, in the beginning, feel like they are coming out of a megaphone and they’re accompanied by a bassline that feels inspired by Traditional Heavy Metal, along with keyboard lines that fit the narrative of “Drifting into hyperspace”. There is a calm section during the bridge that further amplifies the feeling of being lost in space and I just can’t get enough of the mental picture these guys are capable of painting with their music.
The fourth track Melt begins with some very soulful singing that a lot of rock records sadly don’t have these days. I found the slow pace of the song very beautiful and consistent. It almost feels like these verses have got a hold of you and force you to feel the grit in Phil’s voice. Again Mr Ken Ugel flexes his fretting hand muscles on us by shredding a beautiful guitar solo for us then harmonizing over the last chorus into a second outro solo that literally had me on the edge of my seat. I can already see fans in large music festivals going crazy over sections like these.
The fifth track Red Sky is straightforward Alternative Rock/Metal. It begins with an electronic synth beat that the drums replace shortly after. It’s the mid-tempo modern younger brother of the other tracks. Being the longest track as well, it has a long guitar solo that’s simple yet very impactful. It is then followed by some high notes when Phil sings “As your fire rains down” and it’s incredible how much vocal control and breath support this man has got when singing such high notes.
The sixth and final track Satellites goes back to having melodic guitars but in an overall alternative atmosphere. It has my favourite chorus of the whole EP and the verses flow so well with the story they are telling that you will wish the track didn’t have to be this short. One more beautiful guitar solo by Mr Ken takes us to the last chorus which closes the track and the album in a very cool way.
In conclusion, Initial transmissions is an EP that was recorded at many different locations and during the heat of the pandemic, and yet all these circumstances couldn’t hold the talent from shining through. The first track Comatose is a testament to how these guys can take risks and write songs over special time signatures and irregular arrangements but their cohesive and rich sound finds its way more in the standard verse-chorus-verse (and in many instances followed by a solo) formula. It’s a winning formula that I’d like to hear more of in modern rock bands nonetheless, and Wild Gravity is a duo that surely stands out among their peers and contemporaries. This is a record you won’t regret listening to and will have a lot of intense headbanging moments with.