To say that Rock & Roll Submarine picks up where Exit the Dragon left off is not damning with faint praise. It is no small thing for Urge Overkill to reunite 16 years later -- minus Blackie Onassis, whose heroin addiction was instrumental to the band’s split -- and to not just stumble but to deliver a credible sequel to the sinewy, stripped-down Exit the Dragon, which itself played as a vague hangover to the oversized wannabe blockbuster Saturation. That same sense of foreboding underpins portions of Rock & Roll Submarine, but Nash Kato and Eddie “King” Roeser wear weariness well, particularly now that they’ve abandoned their ironic dreams of stardom and have settled into rock & roll survivors. Urge Overkill still subscribe to their old-school definition of rock & roll, punctuating their grinding riffs with the occasional dose of elegantly moody introspection, but Rock & Roll Submarine doesn’t feel mired in the past because UO are determined to keep everything rough and ragged, deliberately keeping the focus fuzzy and left of center. Such grit separates Rock & Roll Submarine from the legions of too carefully considered comebacks, but the thing that distinguishes this record from Urge’s other excellent albums is that there are no affectations, no play acting, nothing delivered with a tongue planted in cheek. To be sure, there’s humor -- look at the album title -- but Nash Kato and Eddie “King” Roeser are taking everything dead seriously, playing for the sake of music itself, giving Rock & Roll Submarine an unexpected soul and heart that makes it a rousing comeback.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine