“Fuck your drama/I’m too old/To give a damn.” The lines, taken from “Mange,” the second track of Ogressa’s debut, Warts and All, more or less sum of the entirety of the album’s approach. The Californian desert rock four-piece is centered around the collaboration between Dali’s Llama mastermind Zach Huskey and Whores of Tijuana’s Trent Ramseyer, who share vocal duties while Huskey also handles guitar and is the primary songwriter and Ramseyer engineered the recording. Released on Dali’s Llama Records and bolstered by the rhythm section of drummer Ian Dye and bassist Mike Jacobson –Scott Reeder also makes several appearances on bass – Ogressa’s heavy rock shares Dali’s Llama’s bullshit-free ethic as much as possible, offering crunching riffs, belted vocals and heady grooves that ask next to no indulgences. Warts and All keeps a semi-thematic edge tied to the excellent comic art of Sean “Skillit” McEleny (also Admiral Browning, etc.), with cuts like the sound-effects interlude “She Awakens” and “Lady Ogress” playing directly to the band’s moniker in a way more lighthearted than the “concept-album” tag might indicate. And for what it’s worth, Warts and All isn’t a concept album, unless you’re looking at it on a stylistic level and the concept in question is burly riff rock. Even that Ogressa veer from, however, with the jazzy take on The Mutants’ “The Boss” (Joe Dillon of Dali’s Llama guests on guitar) and the acoustic-led highlight “Sonoran Debris” offering variety in the record’s midsection.
In that way, it’s easy and perhaps best to think of Warts and All in thirds. The album divides almost evenly along those lines – the middle is made an extra minute longer with the inclusion of “She Awakens”; 17 as opposed to the first and last thirds, which are three cuts totaling just over 16 each – and Ogressa opens strongly with the catchy “Give Me Some Space,” “Mange” and “Rational Man,” the last of which marks the first appearance from Reeder. Huskey’s writing style is straightforward as ever, and where Dali’s Llama took a different (and charming) look at horror rock kitsch on Howl Do You Do? last year, Ogressa keep to thicker guitars that match well with Ramseyer’s throaty-but-still-clean vocals. That said, flourishes of acoustic flamenco on “Give Me Some Space” are an unexpected treat and a step away from the bluesy shuffle of much of the material on Warts and All, but still fluid within the song and subtly telegraphing some of the variety to come. “Mange” is shorter than the opener (which is the longest song on the album; immediate points) and can afford to be more straight-ahead in its approach on the strength of the chorus noted above, which is backed by a descending riff from Huskey and solid drums and backing vocals in the bridge from Dye. The progression of that chorus riff – almost a simpler take on Kyuss’ “Thumb” in a different key – makes “Rational Man” seem upbeat by comparison. The change from Jacobson to Reeder on bass is noticeable, but not so much as to upset the overall flow of the album, and of course the former Kyuss and The Obsessed four-stringer is well at home in anything closely related to the desert, Ogressa included. His lines mostly stick with the rhythm guitar line (Dillon also guests here, to further thicken the proceedings), but the end of “Rational Man” is one of Warts and All’s finest grooves.