As a wordsmith, Jeremy Miller is a slave to every epiphany. At home, he has notebooks, napkins and spare scraps of paper, for each time he has been visited by his muse.
“I have notebooks stacked with pages, and pages of lyrics and poems and random thoughts I quickly write down,” said Miller.
As the frontman to Syracuse’s One Last Shot, the 23-year-old takes to those notebooks to find the words that will accompany the band’s music. Together, it’s a matrimony between the ethereal world of his craft, and the driving force of the music.
“My notebook has turned into my cell phone notepad,” said Miller, “but if I have paper around and don’t think about my cell phone I’ll write down ideas quick. (Laughs.) If I don’t do that I could forget the idea as soon as I think of it.”
One Last Shot carries the label of “local band”, one that calls Syracuse home as the band struggles to branch out farther. They’ve played Buffalo and Rochester. As one would expect, they aspire to do more.
Calling them a local band would be misleading. They avoid the mistake of relating their sound to Metallica – is that before And Justice for All or after the Black Album when they went grunge? Nah.
“Our influence (musically) is based off of a lot of music,” said Miller. “We’re very musically diverse people.”
This October, the band released Bastards of the Plague. It’s a 12-song LP that clocks in a little over a half-an-hour. No bombastic tracks on this one, as the longest track noses around the four-minute range. The band’s musical diversity is most apparent as their sound transitions from metal to almost punk as one goes chronologically through the CD.
“I was listening to a lot of Elvis, Smashing Pumpkins, Danzig and Every Time I Die,” said Miller. “[But}the band as a whole really is influenced by the post-hardcore of the early 2000’s. It’s when we really felt the scene was amazing.
“Usually I close my eyes when listening to the guitars and drums and think of a story going on to the music. If it was a soundtrack to a movie, what would be going on in the scene? Then I see if I already have something I wrote forever ago that works… but usually I write new lyrics to the songs.”
The soundtrack to Bastards of the Plague includes many action sequences. “Hell’s Empty” is one of a few battle anthems that pits the protagonist against the forces of Hell itself.
This is the moment to choose your sides
Everyone’s got to pick
If not you’re just born to die
But I refuse to feel the fire burn inside the Devil’s eyes
They walk among us tonight!
“Bring Out the Dead” is another such anthem, one that showcases some of the precision of Rikki Kemz rapid drum play. He brings the cadence to a feverish pace that accompanies the theme of the song nicely.
The metal aspect of this LP ends with “A Lizard in Brenda.” (Now, hardcore metal fans should not be concerned about this perceived shift in genres. It’s subtle, if there at all.) Matt Good of From First to Last contributes an eerily angelic voice to an otherwise graphic song describing vengeance in the most violent of ways. Good’s addition provides depth and complexity that makes this track standout. William Control (Aiden) also makes a noteworthy contribution on “Bury A Legend”, not only providing his pipes but his wordsmith talents as well.
Brenda is followed by “Neon Gods” paying homage to the barroom brawlers of the world, and continues to impress from there. Each of the remaining songs possess introductions that are reminiscent of The Offspring’s Smash. The first few seconds of guitars , played by David Royal, Angelo Zinkovitch and Adam Vlassis (bass), play along with Kemz in a similar fashion to the legendary California punk rockers.
Steve Sopchak, who has produced and mixed for larger acts like, The Venetia Fair, Ice Nine Kills, The Ataris, and Such Gold, adds a professional touch that does not allow the vocals or any one instrument overpower the rest. Should you have the opportunity to see One Last Shot, take that opportunity. A CD purchase would also not be regrettable. Bastards of the Plague is a well-polished showcase of a local band that is deserving of more attention.
CDs can be purchased by visiting http://onelastshot.storenvy.com/.