"Burns Like Whiskey" (; 2000)

Reviewed by Shelly Harris

I have a stack of ten fresh CDs on my desk right now, from various heavy rock bands, both well-known and new, but the debut CD of south Chicago area band Motherload, "Burns Like Whiskey," is - hands down - the cream of the current crop.

Motherload was formed from Chicago area heavy rock veterans in July of last year, but I only just recently got bitten by this band when I saw them play a short set in March at the Chicago area 1999 music awards bash, put on by the Chicago music paper called the Midwest Beat. (Motherload was there to receive awards from the Reader's Poll as one of the "Top Five New Chicago Bands of 1999," and the Publisher's Award for "Most Promising New Band of 1999.") 

Now, there certainly has been a recent flood of talent from the south Chicago area getting attention on the national scene (at long last, too, since this area has always been a primary stronghold of heavy rock fans - and talent - in the US), including Loudmouth (particular favorites of Metallica) who released their self-titled debut on Hollywood Records last year, and Disturbed, whose debut CD, "The Sickness," came out on Giant Records last month. 

Right now, however, I am talking about Motherload. This band has the confidence and flame-throwing authority to jolt you head first out of your easy chair, a fact which must not have gone unnoticed by Dave Mustaine when he signed them on his internet label,, shortly after he was slipped a copy of their demo on tour last year. Motherload, both live and on this CD, is heavy, dynamic, melodic, bluesy, and very au currant. But their biggest ace in the hole (or "Joker in Red," as referred to on the CD) is definitely their vocalist Ben (the band doesn't use surnames) whose powerful, sand-papered, dipped-in-grits yowl gives the band its highly distinctive hybrid of soulful heft. Think of a composite of Axl Rose, Joe Cocker, Ronnie Van Zandt, and maybe a touch of Gregg Allman, then combine that with an aural composite of Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Black Crowes, and Black Sabbath - and you just might have a very rough idea of the sound and style you'll hear on this CD.

Moreover, the songwriting on "Burns Like Whiskey" has diversity and depth, both lyrically and musically. The absolute, not-to-be-missed number (radio ready without being "commercial") is "Shine," with "Dead Bloom" coming close as first runner-up. Both numbers are the CD's climactic slow burners, but it is obvious that the disk's repeated imagery and allusions to heat, fire, etc. (on the cover art and title, as well as on the lyrics and several song titles) is no accident. Indeed, with other more volcanic tunes like "Burn," "Shit Milkshake," "Don't Tread On Me," and "Venus is Dead," Motherload certainly knows how to segue from scorching the sheets to torching the whole damn building in one fell swoop!

In short, "Burns Like Whiskey" is an explosive, first-class debut effort from a band that has "watch out world" written all over it.

Motherload is: Ben: vocals; Ray: guitars; Gino: Bass; Goose: Drums; and Mace: Keyboards.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:59:46 -0400.