The latest Berwanger album, Exorcism Rock, was recorded in seven straight days of early mornings and late nights. Inspired by nightly viewings of Apocalypse Now and fueled by red wine mixed with tequila, the five members of the band ended up with an album that is maddeningly catchy in a way that brings to mind arena rock's swagger, while still being intimate enough to not be out of place on club stages across the country.
The instant the title track kicks into gear, you're struck by the nimble way the hooks wind their way into your brain. Where Berwanger's first LP, Strange Stains, relied on simplicity - a notion born out by its basement and bedroom origins - Exorcism Rock aims bigger, with songs like "Rats & Cats" rocking a glam bounce via the drumming of Jonny Phillip and "Spirit King" channelling a KISS-like thunder when the guitars of Ricky Salthouse and Berwanger meet Scott Schoenbeck's bass. Add in synthesizers from Brian Klein to fill out songs like "Booty Shake," and you can immediately hear that this isn't just three chords and a chorus.
Berwanger isn't afraid to slow things down and be introspective, however. In the middle of Exorcism Rock comes the ballad, "Guess You Weren't Wrong," which is a particularly heart wrenching tale of loss and wanting, yet so powerfully beautiful in its build. The way it's paired with the minute-and-a-half slam-and-bang of "I Want You Bad" is the sort of sequencing which lets you know that this is a band that cares just as much about how you listen to the record as a whole as they do about how each song sounds.