The F***ing Champs are the s***

By By Trevor Hale

By Trevor Hale

Singers are overrated. All they do is steal the spotlight, the glory and all the girls. Let’s not forget the girls. The cutest ones always go for the singer.

Go ahead and add bass players to the overrated list, too. Who needs ’em? Just ask The F***ing Champs. They don’t need either one. The only thing this band needs is two guitars, a drum kit and a desire to rock like there’s no tomorrow. And they’ve got that in spades.

The F***ing Champs formed in San Francisco in the early ’90s, combining its heavy metal roots with a knack for art school indie and prog-rock. The Champs’ sound relies on constantly shifting time signatures and guitar techniques that only the most advanced musicians will truly appreciate or understand. While the Champs are somewhat of an esoteric band in that regard — hiding their technical talents beneath a solid wall of sound — that doesn’t mean they don’t bring the rock.

All musicianship aside, the catchy riffs come in rapid succession, sometimes barely leaving enough room to catch your breath before they’re off and running across the fretboard. Many times, one expects a high-pitched wail referencing dragons or swords to cut through the music, but it never happens. It’s not that vocals are needed — they aren’t, not even a bit — it’s just that years of riff-heavy radio hits have trained the masses that a vocalist is what makes the band. The F***ing Champs makes it absolutely clear that is not the case.

Its newest album, VI (a nice middle finger to Led Zeppelin, who only made it to IV), isn’t a departure from the sound the band has honed for the past 15 years, but rather a more focused version. The spaced out prog-rock moments still appear, but The Champs seems to have straightened out, now concentrating more on keeping those metal horns in the air.

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