Montreal’s Mongrels are eager to pay homage to their ancestors on their debut, Oshawa. Full of Led Zeppelin crunch and Freddie Mercury vocal acrobatics, the band’s ambitious take on heavy metal is a welcome addition to their city’s indie scene.
While they primarily focus on guitar-heavy riffs, epitomized by tracks like “Bongo” and “City Living,” Mongrels aren’t afraid to expand the project to the realm of synth blasts and gang vocals. The two come together on the album’s best song, “All in My Head,” where a Queens of the Stone Age-like riff during the verse shifts expertly into the singalong chorus. Despite their obvious sincerity, the band also shows off their sense of humour, à la Spinal Tap, on “Needs Got Needs.”
Mongrels borrow a lot of positives from Zeppelin, but they also share some of their downfalls. Vaguely ridiculous subject matter sinks a couple of tracks, most noticeably “Contemplating the Wizard,” whose title says all you need to know, but overall it’s a remarkably solid effort.