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Miss Lava - Red Supergiant (Raging Planet Records)

By: Greg Lenzo

[6/10] Miss Lava. A moniker designed to induce imaginings of a smoking-hot, foxy lady perhaps? That’s about all I could come up with. But either way it’s a head-scratcher, much like the band’s latest hard rock offering Red Supergiant. It’s straight-up modern rock, complete with a beefed-up guitar tone, blues overtones, hooks galore, and a clean-yet-punchy production. Hard rock itself has become a novelty genre, long bereft of any real “torch-bearing” bands, and hearing something like this removed from any sort of “scene” context is really…well it’s weird, to be honest.

Let’s take a brief stroll down memory lane, shall we? It’s the early 2000’s. Terms like “modern rock” and “hard rock” actually held some relevance, and were supported by a plethora of acts, almost all of which covered a range of musical quality starting with “tolerable," and descending down to the “please gouge out my eardrums with a baby spoon” level. I’m talking that Papa Roach, Three Days Grace, Drowning Pool, Breaking Benjamin, Disturbed stuff here, people. It was music for people who wanted to be “edgy," but not full-on “heavy." It’s that dude who would break his own neck headbanging to “Down With the Sickness” but refuse to listen to any of that “screamo” metal…thankfully, modern rock as a viable genre fizzled out completely by about 2008, and encounters with people like the archetypal hard rocker mentioned above receded to a minimum. For those of you still running into such people, I’m sorry.

But where does Miss Lava fit into all of this? That’s a good question, and since we’re living in a time in which hard rock no longer commands the mainstream support and radio play it once did, I’m not sure what the answer is. Unlike the list of bands mentioned in the previous paragraphs (just typing out the names had me reaching instinctively for my baby spoon), Miss Lava really isn’t too bad. There aren’t any sap-fest ballads on Red Supergiant, and the riffs stay completely away from anything overtly boneheaded/agro. It’s got some energy and attitude, and a lot of the hooks are pretty catchy too. However, the undercurrent of sameness connecting the album’s 11 tracks seems to reflect the state of the hard rock genre as a whole: there’s nothing more that can be done with it.

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