Flashback a few years.
A new studio had opened up in Downtown Las Vegas (National Southwestern Electronic Recordings) in the back of a record shop called 11th Street Records. It was the brainchild of Ronald Corso, who months before had contacted Illicitor, and invited them to be the guinea pigs for his first big run with his brand new studio. When the band first sat down to record what would end up being their debut album, the initial thought was that this may end up just being an awesome demo, or a modest EP at best. In less than three days, the trio dealt out nine tracks of live tracked chaos.
This record became a labor of love for the band, and for Corso and engineer/mixer Mike “Lazer” Lavin, who worked from the beginning takes to the album’s final master. Upon completion of tracking at NSER with Corso, Lavin and the band continued working limited hours over the following months mixing at Digital Insight Recording just a few blocks down the road. Here, the album was kept in a cage and fed raw meat, and was forced to fight on the weekend’s against hip hop singles and commercial jingles.
Fast forward to now.
What we have for you here is music meant to be measured in moments. There are times when the gruff vocals harmonize over familiar punk dynamics, calling on influences like Against Me! and Off With Their Heads. But as evidenced by the album’s opening track, Little Birdie, the band melds that punk accessibility with metal forged from the fire’s of Mastodon’s “Blood Mountain”. Songs further down the tracklist, like Rolling Bag of Butcher Knives, nods to West Coast metal pioneers Deftones’ “Around the Fur” and VG Ultra feels like a street fight between Faith No More’s take on the power groove, and Refused’s prediction of today’s punk.
Formed in 2013, heavy Vegas trio Illicitor has racked up gigs opening for NOFX, Retox and A Wilhem Scream, without a single album to its name. Bassist Zabi Naqshband, guitarist Bob Gates and drummer Micah Malcolm have finally rectified that with this self-titled, nine-track LP. It opens with the “Little Birdie,” an attention-grabbing cut that foreshadows what’s to come: aggressive guitars, pummeling percussion, dominant basslines and grizzly vocals. Illicitor was completed in three days at National Southwestern Recording and showcases self-proclaimed “live-tracked chaos”—all of which comes together in an audacious, boot-stomping debut. music.illicitor.us –Leslie Ventura – Las Vegas Weekly
Illicitor is a 3 piece punk/hardcore band born out of the ashes of prolific Las Vegas favorites: Holding Onto Sound. Their debut album arrived December 2017.
I was somewhat familiar with Holding Onto Sound (HOTS). I spent a little time listening to their music, an interview, and a review. I have also seen them perform live in the past, so I was excited to hear about illicitor. Stripped down 3-piece punk rock born from some familiar faces and voice. Thus far the self-titled debut does not disappoint.
The core of the nine tracks are uptempo punk rock with some hardcore aggression. There are some departures from the formula with track 4. The Body and The Dirt with its acoustic guitar and vocal intro, climbing into full arrangement and eventual insistence on a complete sonic uprising. For a trio, the soundscape is quite full. Studio magic goes a long way, but then again so does competent musicianship, none of which are in short supply on this release.
The band ticks a lot of boxes on my list of favorite rock and roll features: fast paced, trio, clear vocals, short tracks with a bit of grit. If you’re of a similar mind, and I know that you are, check out illicitor. I have no doubt that you will dig the hell out of them.
Nothing on the album gives me cause to be overly critical, but nothing can be completely perfect I suppose. There is a bit of psychedelic guitar noodling that I could probably live without, but overall a solid debut from Las Vegas’ illicitor.
Jerry Actually – Upstarter.com