Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

Frogstomp
Carl Benjamin

“Frogstomp” is the 1995 debut album from Australian band Silverchair. The entire album is very much a product of the Grunge era. Strong influence from Nirvana and Pearl Jam are evident and to the credit of Silverchair.

The album released when band members were only 15 years old. You wouldn’t know it from the quality of the album.  Each song could have been written by a rock veteran and the arrangements are quite suited to their temperament.

“Frogstomp” starts strong with a song called “Israel’s Son.”  This track has gone on to become most iconic song for Silverchair and it’s regularly the last song played at live shows. “Son” begins with a powerful, foreboding bass line that builds to a compelling and raucous finish.  Though “Son” is easily the highlight of the album, that doesn’t mean the rest of “Frogstompe” has nothing to offer.

“Tomorrow” is possibly most famous song from “Frogstomp.”  It topped the charts in their native Australia.  “Tomorrow” is a good, solid song, instantly recognisable from its intro.

“Frogstompe” then passes smoothly over the pleasant, but forgettable, “Faultline.” The next cut is mosh-pit starter, “Pure Massacre.” “Massacre” is a high-energy powerhouse, with crunchy guitars and strong vocal work to howl along to.

“Shade” is one of the albums major highlights.  It is a significantly more tempered track. “Shade” speaks more of the artistic skill in writing a thought-provoking song, than a maniacal grunge-fest.  The guitar and vocals are smooth and easy on the ear, and provide a welcome respite in the middle of the album.

Unfortunately, “Frogstompe” takes a dip slightly with the instrumental “Madman” and the relatively bland “Undecided” and “Cicada.”  “Madman” is a fine track for live shows, but as an album track is it more closely akin to filler.  The original track did have a vocal accompaniment, but this was actually to its detriment, and it was wisely left as an instrumental.

“Undecided” and “Cicada” are bland.  Given the quality of the album thus far, this is a shame, but “Frogstompe” redeems itself magnificently with its last song, “Findaway.” This is an excellent track to end the album on, and from the start it is high-energy and raring to go.  With positive lyrics, a brief duration and a fast tempo, it’s certainly the sort of song you’ll come back to repeatedly.

The overall timbre of the album is one of solid, distorted guitars, powerful bass and excellent drum work. Each song is catchy in its own way, with great melodies crafted without the need to resort to discordance. Yet, each is able to kick up a fuss.

Vocals by Daniel John are top-quality.  He has a smooth, clear voice and holds a note beautifully.  He is also magnificently capable of turning his talents to a full-throated scream that does not become whiny or grating and bolsters any track on which it appears.

“Frogstomp” is not perfect.  It is relatively short, running a tad under 45 minutes. There are eleven tracks, three you’ll likely skip to get to the next fourth one.

There is not a huge amount of variety between each track.  The distorted guitars all have the same texture of sound and the tracks are samey enough to be recognised instantly as “Silverchair.” As noted, it is very much a product of its era.

Do not let this put you off, however. Although it has its flaws, the good of “Frogstompe” outweighs its bad. For the first half of the album, each song is a classic grunge from the 1990s. Bad or good, “Frogstomp” will grace my CD player for many years to come.

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