Kodiak Kodiak (self-released)
In the '00s, there was a brief emergence of numerous "Bear" bands—Grizzly Bear, Bear in Heaven, Bear Hands, etc. The problem with this, aside from being easily mistaken for each other, was that none of them had the roar or ferocity to do their large-mammal namesake justice.
San Diego's Kodiak, however, are the rare bear band to actually leave the claws and teeth intact, their self-titled debut album comprising 12 tracks of burly, visceral hardcore—big on meaty riffs and a surprising abundance of hooks. Their closest contemporaries are Los Angeles' The Bronx and local bruisers Retox, with just a touch of classic heavy metal and psychedelic rock. The result is a hungry, vicious beast that sounds like it could tear open your car like a can of sardines.
The album begins with "All Wretch and No Vomit," a mostly instrumental introduction that's built around a quote by British philosopher Alan Watts. And though it certainly packs a wallop, it's not nearly as intense or destructive as the obliteration that follows. Once "Whole Lotta Magic" starts, the album kicks into high gear, with Morgan Bennett and Clayton Word trading sharp jabs of guitar against Jerry Villalobos' seething, distorted vocals. It's a hell of a way to get introduced to Kodiak's uncompromising punk assault.
For how raw and powerful Kodiak sound, however, they incorporate a good amount of stylistic variation in between their power-chord-driven melodies. "Predators Won't Lose Sleep" finds Villalobos turning the phrase "My time / Is precious!" into a shout-along chorus, while "Valhallafornia" starts with a surprisingly funky post-punk intro that's somewhere between Fugazi and The Minutemen. "Thunder Dagger" is a mere 55 seconds of high-speed destruction, and "Snake River Redemption" is a solid AC/DC-style stomp that breaks up the gutpunch throwdowns nicely.
Kodiak show off some impressive range on their debut, never content to stay in one place too long. But when all's said and done, they're hardcore through and through.