Smoke – The Bastard Sons

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Perhaps having a first listen to a full on heavy rock/metal/punk album like this should not be attempted at 06:30am on a wet miserable Monday morning – where is the god damn summer!? Especially when you are travelling from Newcastle to Hartlepool to go to a job you are really not in the mood for at the best of times. In an ideal world it should have been at about 10:30pm on a Friday night after a few libations when, feeling suitably relaxed, you could let the music infiltrate (or otherwise) your soul. Nevertheless, the 06:30am option was the one I attempted………I shouldn’t have done. It was too brutal even for my rock sensibilities at that time in the morning. However, I tried again later in the week at a more appropriate time and was not disappointed.

These UK (York) rockers kick off their debut album in a ferocious manner; a few seconds of tinny tranny lo-fi effect give way to a tumultuous sound of power riffing, bludgeoning drums – complete with roaring vocals – and the opening track ‘The Bastard’ truly does get the party started. It is immediately apparent that they have gone big on the production/engineering on this album; align that with the fact that there is no shortage of melody and musical nous to accompany the big sound and the immediate feeling is that we are on to a winner.

One of my minor criticisms is that the second track ‘Release The Hounds’ kicks off with a similar trick to that of the first track (tiny tinny tranny lo-fi sound giving way to big booming cacophony) but the song itself is ultimately a beast. There are enough breakdowns and changes in rhythm to keep you hooked and interested throughout.

Release The Hounds by The Bastard Sons

The vocal style on the album is your nowadays standard fayre of singing mixed with throat shredding screaming/growling/shouting. If you like it you like it…if you don’t then you don’t…I love it, but only when it is combined with the quality music and musicianship that the likes of The Bastard Sons are backing it up with.

‘A Lie Is A Lie’ is a call to arms against the world leaders and multi-national corporations that according to the band are controlling our lives not for our own good, but for their own wealth and political gain. As you can imagine it is not a tight lipped conservative affair; more a raging torrent of fire, anger and fury!

‘Sobre La Muer’ gives the listener a little bit of a breather with a more sedate pace and vocal style until The Bastard Sons build the song up and then get into their group chorus inquisition of repeatedly demanding “Have you, have you seen the light?” Have I seen the light? Yes! Yes! Jesus H tap dancing Christ I have seen the light*. I actually think I saw the light within 30 seconds of the opening track but thanks for asking. Another minor criticism is that once they have built up to their inquisition then they then go and fade the ending of the track away far too quickly; minor criticism I know.

The rest of the album follows a similar pattern in terms of musical genre – in fact it gets even heavier in parts – but each song has enough individuality to justify its inclusion on this impressive debut album. ‘Bottom Of The Ladder’ and ‘I’m Only A Call Away’ are impressive chest beaters. ‘U.S Against Them’ is a quirky track; intense and brutal but standing at just over a minute long it is a bit of stumper as you are just getting into it and then it dissipates away into the murky world of broken springs (well that’s what it sounds like!!)

‘Listen Here’ starts at a frantic pace but has bags of melody even allowing for the growling vocals. ‘Cardboard Walls’ and ‘Scen(ic)’ follow in similar fashion with intriguing skittering guitar riffs on the verses of the latter. Penultimate track ‘Stay True’ gives an insight into a more laid back sombre approach that these Bastards obviously have in their armoury.

Closing the album ‘Exist-Distance’ has enough power, punch, melody, snarl and chanting chorus vocals to fill their follow up album which after this impressive debut I will be eagerly awaiting. Now I just want to see if they can pull it off live…if you are interested they are at The Angel in Durham on August 14th. I’m on holiday – Bastards!

* (The Blues Brothers Movie 1980)

Reviewer: Dom Mallatratt

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