Category: Industrial / Rock
Album: 51 Peg
Blurb: After over a decade, 51 Peg returns with three brand new songs, showcasing a dynamic songwriting and tight production style that has certainly not diminished during the long absence.
There are few things more frustrating than when a band comes along with a great deal of potential and momentum, demonstrating all of the skills and qualities that would ensure success and widespread appeal, only for that band to disappear. Such was the case for Washington, DC’s 51 Peg, a group that had in a few short years made waves in the local scene opening for a number of high profile acts and showcasing a dynamic blend of alternative rock and electro/industrial stylings topped off by darkly enticing melodies and slick production savvy. After the release of the band’s 2004 sophomore album Esc/Ctrl and a subsequent live album in 2005, 51 Peg apparently dissolved, and while the band members would continue to create music under different monikers and outlets, there was a discernible void left by 51 Peg’s absence… until now.
Having performed a series of reunion shows in 2016, 51 Peg made a loud and very welcome return, culminating in this three track self-titled EP as but the first taste of what the band has to offer after nearly a decade. From the first throbbing pulses of electronic bass and strutting rhythms that underscore “Another Nothing,” Jeff Sargent’s harmonized baritone vocals enter, followed by Brian Fasani’s seamless mesh of electronic and acoustic percussion and Carlo Pizarro’s steely guitar riffs, and there is no doubt that it is 51 Peg back in all its glory. The chorus erupts into a bombastic and emotive howl of industrialized melodic fury, the likes of which could place the song easily alongside the best of modern alt./rock, but retaining a signature sound that is all 51 Peg’s own. This continues in the slower paced but more intensely poignant “Walk Through Me,” as Sargent bellows lines like “When we wish to be larger than life, we come back from the grave” and “At least we bleed in a similar way when we can’t always bleed the same,” signifying the more introspective and thoughtful lyrical approach that has helped to distinguish 51 Peg from numerous others in a similar vein. The EP ends with “The Light That Lit Your Way,” the swells of synth and crystalline piano lines evoking a celestial atmosphere befitting the band’s name (short for 51 Pegasi, the first star outside our solar system found to have an orbiting planet). Through each of the three tracks, the interplay of Pizarro’s muscular riffs and seething melodic passages with those of Tim Phillips’ layers of synth, complete with Fasani’s powerful but never overstated rhythms creates a blistering tonal range that is never oppressive on the ears yet still plunges the listener into the depths of the band’s industrial/rock fervor.
At less than 15 minutes long and only three tracks, this EP is almost painfully short, but after more than a decade, it is more than enough to signal the return of a band that should be destined for bigger and better things. When listened to alongside Esc/Ctrl or even the 2000 Strange Appointments debut album, it would sound as if 51 Peg never left us as the music is as richly textured and finely produced, if not more so, which is sure to please longtime fans; at the same time, those unfamiliar with the band’s past will surely find this an excellent thruway into 51 Peg’s singular sound and instill enough excitement for more yet to come. Besides that, these three tracks easily rank as some of the band’s best, most well written material, which bodes well for what the quartet may yet have in store for us on future releases. Welcome back, 51 Peg!