You might hear the EP “Engage” by Grand Ledge, MI’s Jason Alarm and be bewildered by where it came from. “Grand Ledge, you say? Impossible!?” But something great doesn’t have to come from a well known place. Recorded in the Spring of 2009, this record is like an elephant in the room. It’s so obviously different than anything else that a Lansing area band has put out in a long time.

The key thing that stands out for me is the heavy use of synths. Played here by Brandon Blancard, they bath the record in almost-power metal greatness and bombast. They help flesh out the band’s sound. Some of the most catchy parts of the record are not played on a guitar, but on a synth. The synth line on “Cobras” is catchy and energetic. Not many bands (if any) in Lansing use synths in any capacity. Jason Alarm’s use of them isn’t necessarily unique in the grand scheme of things but, locally, it is a breath of fresh air in the lead guitar, riff-driven punk rock of Lansing.

Given the previous statement, it might be weird to praise the guitar playing here, but that’s what I’m going to do. On “Friday the 13th”, the lead guitar riff is full of power and might. It’s a guitar riff that you want to rock out to. The rhythm guitars are solid and add depth when the synths take the lead. Some of the rhythm guitars have an almost ska-type bounce to them, like on “Wild Zero”. They can get you moving. The guitars don’t play second fiddle to the synths here but do the jobs asked of them, either on rhythm or lead.

Lead singer and guitarist Matt Waterman’s vocals are, like many things on this record, a unique aspect to the band. He’s tuneful and shouty, often during the same song. He has a swagger in his voice that is infectious and gets in your head. It is also at times raspy and strangled but still listenable. Often, when he sings more melodic lines, it sounds flat and droning. It’s a good thing that he double-tracked his vocals. It makes his voice stand up amongst the music but not necessarily above it.

His lyrics are another thing altogether. He sings lines about zombies, masturbation and girls. Some of them are honestly ridiculous. If they were not backed by such epic music, they might be laughed at. But not necessarily by me. I think I’d just snicker at them. From “Cobras”, he sings “You swallow everything/I can’t remember/I haven’t seen that face/Since last December/I am your poltergeist/ You’re my pretender”. I’m not sure what the idea behind them is, as random as they seem, but they sound so epic and catchy it’s hard not to like them (or at least sing along).

Synth leads, roaring power metal guitar lines and epic vocals characterize this record. These are all things I could get used to hearing from this band. Being over a year since this record came out, the band have had a few line up changes but still have all of these characteristics intact. Some of lyrics aren’t the best but are anthemic and will get you singing and shouting along.