Take a random handful of both early 80’s hard rock and power pop, toss that in a blender, garnish with a slice of Blink-182 and the resulting cocktail would be called White Reaper. Their newest album, Asking for a Ride, continues the outfit’s love of bygone radio days dominated by big, guitar-driven rock sounds.
The Louisville, Kentucky-based quartet (Tony Esposito – guitar, vocals Ryan Hater – keyboard Hunter Thompson – guitar Nick Wilkerson – drums, percussion Sam Wilkerson – bass) started recording the follow-up to their major label debut (2019’s You Deserve Love) in Seattle, but things never clicked, so they decamped to Nashville and Battle Tapes Studio with engineer Jeremy Ferguson, self-producing Asking for a Ride.
The resulting ten tracks run the gamut of the group’s influences and while all of them lay right on the surface, that is part of the fun. The opening title track slams the heaviest on the whole record as the punk metal aggression recalls the best parts of Metallica collaged into a blistering blast. “Bozo” stays in this vein with snotty vocals as does the more power pop-influenced “Pink Slips” which contains the White Reaper’s most insightful lyrics to date, regarding a lost generation, growing up slowly.
Another highlight offering is “Fog Machine” which cruises out of the gate with Van Halen-like riffs, gleefully deploying hammer-ons and guitar harmonies, relishing the synths and a pop metal feel in a KISS vein for mass accessibility.
The Thin Lizzy meets Motorhead chaos of “Funny Farm” is a gas, as is the group’s dip into New Wave sprinkled with Cheap Trick-like power pop during “Getting into Trouble w/ the Boss”. White Reaper’s playful spirit takes a darker twist with the less successful ‘50’s inspired pop-punk of “Crawlspace” but it is tracks like the anthemic ‘80 soundtrack-ready “Heaven or Not” and arena rock closing “Pages” where the group shines brightest.
In an era of stripping down sounds in all genres, White Reaper injects the outrageous, over-the-top rock back in. While nothing on Asking for a Ride is unique, White Reaper continues to happily repurpose the sounds of their heroes.