Marat's appeal is apparent: Here are four guys from notable local bands of yore, coming together at last to give their album rock-inspired, testosterone-induced reading on the state of modern rock. And their interpretations of frontman John Ensslin's work are convincing, at least on the surface. Ensslin is a guttural vocalist, passionately bearing the weight of his own heartaches and misgivings in a scream n' sing hybrid that somehow sounds like Eddie Vedder fronting a dark power pop act.
Michael Rank's guitar work is intelligent and inspired. He snaps out of dreamy, reverbed riffs throughout "Apache" to return with shards of dissonance, his bent strings putting the immediacy and intensity in place during one of Ensslin's more reserved attempts. His playing comes packed with echoes of the Pacific Northwest, too: the feedback reckoning of Mike McCready creeps in for "Crush," and the chorded crunch of Mark Arm slams down full-throttle during "Straw Dog." During "Salt," it sounds as though Soundgarden's Kim Thayil is listed in the album credits, but--moments later--the guitars shift into a solo that nearly any teenager with a Fender could identify as being the immortal "Stairway to Heaven" break. The echoes are occasionally overbearing, but as Ensslin puts it during the same song, "All God's children wanna rock and roll."