CD Review: Bulletproof Messenger “Arm Yourself”

It doesn’t always happen immediately that a band’s sound is found; sometimes, the group has to go through several stages to end up with the exact sound that they want. This can describe the situation with the alternative rock band Bulletproof Messenger.

The original lineup for Bulletproof Messenger was a guitarist and a keyboard player/percussionist. This lineup took their influences and created a style that ended up being instrumental. It wasn’t until the perfect vocalist was found and added to the mix that the group started to gel.

After the initial three years of existence, the base members of guitarist Voley Martin, keyboardist and percussionist Matt Litwin and Vocalist Marcus Klavan started adding more and more pieces to the band before the current lineup was in place. Along with Martin, Litwin and Klavan, the rest of the band includes Jesse Downing on bass, Scott Martin on guitar, and Alex Straiter on drums.The current six-member version of Bulletproof Messenger find itself a long way removed from the early duo days of the group. It is this band that released its current album of Arm Yourself in 2008.

The current six-member version of Bulletproof Messenger finds itself a long way removed from the early duo days of the group. This lineup takes the feel of the original duo and expands on the simplicity of just guitar and keys. This results in a sound that is full-bodied and readymade for airplay on any Alternative Rock radio format. It is this version of the band that released its current album of Arm Yourself in 2008.

Arm Yourself by Bulletproof Messenger brings to life the sound and style of music that the band had searched so hard to find. The band’s music falls into the alternative rock genre. The current release by the band offers the listener eleven chances to become familiar with the group’s music.

The album starts off with the song “The Fantasy”. This song, and most of the tracks that are included on the album, are very heavy as far as the music is concerned. The band could easily be grouped with bands such as Econoline Crush. The reason for that reference is that both bands create music that has a definite heaviness to it.

While the first track of the album features a style that revolves around the guitar, the very next track features the other main instrument of the band- the keyboard. The track “Move On” starts off with the sound of programming that helps to lead the song in. Soon, the guitars return and what is produced is a track that brings to mind the feel of Alternative Rock from the early days of the style.

The next track that needs to be mentioned is the song “Lose It All”. This is one of the singles off of the album. Staying true to the heaviness of the band’s music, the song also contains a good amount of keyboard work and electronics from Matt Litwin. Litwin’s electronics add some orchestration to the music. The song also features the sound of dj scratching, giving the track a strong Alternative Rock feel.  

It is Matt Litwin’s use of technology and keys that gives the music of Bulletproof Messenger its unique approach. While many people would end up overusing the technology and ultimately overpowering the music, Litwin uses the keyboards and percussion sparingly, which enhances the music instead of burying it.

Given the fact that the history of Bulletproof Messenger included the initial time period in which the band existed as strictly instrumental, it is nice to hear the band include a few instances where they return to those origins of the makeup of the band. Those origins return on the track “DLD” “DLD” is a great instrumental passage created with the use of keyboards that works as an introduction to the album’s title track of “Arm Yourself”.

“Arm Yourself,” the album’s title track changes the pace of the music. When much of the music is made with keyboards in mind, this track features the rest of the band while those keyboards retreat a little, at least for one track. The guitar-heavy song features the playing of both the guitars and the bass which adds a strong groove to the music. The inclusion of the keyboards adds a bit of flavor to the song.

Another track from the album where the band’s origins shine through is on the song “No Way Out”. While the song “DLD” is used as an introduction to the title track, “No Way Out’s” first two minutes work as an introduction to the song. But this track is slightly different as those first moments of the song feature the sound of the piano instead of the synthesizer that is normally what is found in the band’s music. Following the first few moments of the track, synthesizers return to add some texture to the music before the rest of the instrumentation joins in and the band’s Alternative Rock style returns. This is one track where the listener truly gets a taste of everything the band is capable of.

Of all of the tracks on the Arm Yourself release, the album’s final track of “Step Out” is probably the most unusual. But that’s not because of what it is, but rather because of what it isn’t. What it is not is the same as the rest of the release. This means that the track doesn’t fall into the same keyboard-based Alternative Rock that the rest of the tracks fall into. “Step Out” is a track that contains a strong Rock and Roll feel to the music. But the music featured in the track is closer to music from the 1980s rather than the Alternative Rock music that would appear years after the eighties have come to an end. “Step Out” is a track that would have felt right at home within the genre of Power Rock rather than within the Alternative Rock genre.   

The music of Bulletproof Messenger is rather complex: At times, the band has a very heavy approach to their music. At other times, their music is rather laidback. At the same time, the band alternates between instrumental and lyrical. And all of this is combined with the use of electronics and sampling. This combination makes the music of Bulletproof Messenger perfect for lovers of modern rock music. It also makes the band’s album Arm Yourself a joy to listen to.

To learn more about the band, find them online at www.bulletproofmessenger.net. You can also find them on MySpace at www.myspace.com/bulletproofmessenger. To learn more about the band’s PR Firm of Rainmaker PR, go to www.rainmakerpublicrelations.com

To purchase a copy of Arm Yourself by Bulletproof Messenger, simply click on the album cover below: