Being the flagship signing on a new label that was founded by Bob Becker (Fearless Records) and partnered with Nick Moore (InVogue Records) is no small feat. After all, Fearless launched the career of bands like Pierce the Veil, At the Drive-In, Motionless in White and I Prevail. However, that wasn’t the first taste of success that the hard-working, resilient and rowdy guys in AVOID had seen. Prior to their signing, they had inked a record deal, landed two songs on NASCAR Heat 5 and released a full-length record as well as an EP, The Burner, all from 2017-2020. In the midst of the pandemic, while touring seemed to be history, they persevered in the only way they knew how. While, a fairly older song at the video’s release, “HostAge At A BeAch House PArty,” gave just a taste of what these guys were all about. The video captures vocalist Benny Scholl’s infectious smile, the band’s energetic nature and everything that encapsulates who they are and what they represent. What is that? Simple. It’s a reminder that you’re only living your best life, if you do it on your own terms. While the lyrics may be painful, gut-wrenching and downright hard to listen to at times, the fact that Scholl keeps a smile on his face through it all, should be motivating to those who are feeling lost. After all, there is no manual for how to live life and there are no known ways to predict what can/will happen. This song was a wake-up call to any who listen, to remind them that they are not alone. The insane video that was created for it was just the band doing what they do best… have fun! Not much time went by before the next chapter began with the release of “Split (Kill It)” and “Cowabunga.” The former is a cry for help through someone whose thoughts are making the best attempt at getting the best of them. It’s raw, it’s real and it’s relatable as anyone would expect. While certainly not the heaviest song on their Thriller Records debut, Cult Mentality, it remains pretty close and is as close to a punk rock sound as we’ve heard from them yet. A fast-tempo, no-holds barred roller coaster ride from beginning to end, it gives a good indication into what we may expect from the band… if, indeed, one has not figured out how unpredictable that can be. “Cowabunga,” is a track that explores the idea of losing yourself and doing what it takes to find it again. This track features more of a traditional active rock, even arena rock type of sound. Guitars are much more front and center, with an equally aggressive, yet anthemic nature to the track. It’s no surprise that these two tracks saw a good amount of traction, being quickly put into rotation at Octane.
“My World” was the track that accompanied the album’s announcement and it’s not hard to see why. This track uses trap beats and faded, yelled vocal patterns to showcase the experimental side of the band. It hits you with a one-two punch, where the listener will simultaneously scratch their head and nod along, instantly loving what they’re hearing. This is the riot-inciting song that sees the band at their most cocky, calling out all who have doubted them, who may stand in their way and who dare to oppose them. This is where the elements of hip-hop, metalcore, punk and hardcore all become fused together in an amalgamation that makes one wonder “how does something this odd, sound this good?!” This was sure to be a fan favorite from the start, especially for those who longed for the band’s older, heavier sound. Then came “Can’t Take This Away,” which was clearly made for airplay. Soaring, anthemic and as active rock as they could get, this is a song that would help catapult them to that next level.
Then, you have songs that hit you out of left-field like “Finish Line 3: Live on DVD,” an ode to a sound (and aesthetic) that bands like The Chariot and Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza honed to perfection. Technical guitars and blast beats give way to higher ranged, yelled vocals before bursting full force into breakdowns, coupled with deep, guttural growls that leave your hair standing on end. If it wasn’t for how unpredictable the nature of this band is, you might think this one is out of place. However, it feels right at home on this record.
Make no mistake about it, Cult Mentality, is as explosive as it is catchy, as relatable as it is tongue-in-cheek and as AVOID as it gets. This is an album that’s designed to be listened to at maximum volume, belting your lungs out, doing 90 down the highway and not looking back. Thriller Records made no mistake when they used this band to announce it’s formation. Not only is it a perfect testament to who they are but the replay value on this album is astronomical, even with a run-time of just over 30 minutes. It leaves you begging for more, rather than wanting to turn it off after a couple of listens. The boys from Seattle came out swinging and hit a home run, now the only question is have you joined the Cult? Pick up your copy or stream your copy using the links below.