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Articles Home » 2014 Articles » Band Of Skulls - 2014 Himalayan
 
Band Of Skulls - 2014 Himalayan



ARTIST: Band Of Skulls
ALBUM: Himalayan
LABEL: You Are Here Music, Electric Blues
SERIAL: EBRCD010
YEAR: 2014

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Russell Marsden - guitar, vocals * Emma Richardson - bass, vocals * Matt Hayward - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Asleep At The Wheel * 02 Himalayan * 03 Hoochie Coochie * 04 Cold Sweat * 05 Nightmares * 06 Brothers And Sisters * 07 I Guess I Know You Fairly Well * 08 You Are All That I Am Not * 09 I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead And One Dying * 10 Toreador * 11 Heaven's Key * 12 Get Yourself Together

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.bandofskulls.com


Background
Honestly, I not trying to be awkward on purpose, or becoming the GDM version of Dave Dickson (Kerrang writer of yore). Anybody remember his aversion to metal, strange when he wrote for Kerrang, but he did convert me to the likes of Hanoi Rocks and Gene Loves Jezebel, but we will forever disagree on epic Mercyful Fate. It's just that I enjoy digging out something different compared to countless AOR and melodic rock albums that get issued on a weekly basis. Yes this genre is still my favoured listening and always will be, but recently does it rarely produce anything we haven't heard before?

So here I am playing the field once more. The golden rule for any album being a pretty good one is whether any of the tracks pop back into your head at any strange moment. Like taking a shower, cutting the grass, putting unrecyclable rubbish items at the bottom of the recycling bins just to annoy the bin man and council officials? Well this one does, from the opening to the closing track. Anyway, I only picked on this trio in 2014, although they released three studio albums plus a number of live recordings. Being surrounded by Portsmouth and Bournemouth supporters at home, I would have to agree that the group is the only good thing to come out of Southampton, nothing wrong with the town, I can't forgive Ronald Koeman for cheating England out of a World Cup place in the 1994 World Cup qualifiers. Do I not like that!


The Songs
I am pretty much going to rattle through the tracks.

Immediately off and running with the thumping 'Asleep At The Wheel', and while it has a strong link to Royal Blood, you must bear in mind that BOS pre date them by a good number of years. I'm not knocking the bloodline because it's a rare breed for anyone to get a Brit nomination that I have in my collection. They give you the impression that you understand where the song is going, then at just the two and half minute mark, add a marvellous eccentric mid passage followed by a soaring guitar break, this album is just full of these classic interludes. The same can be found on the title track, the overall blatant rhythms makes disco sound like progressive rock.

'Hoochie Coochie' has a Marc Bolan feel, and that not just because of the title. Yes, there is a 70's feel, one of happiness, sun and driving around in funky Citroen's and Renault's, with no cares if they will pass the MOT.

'Cold Sweat' features the female vocals of Emma Richardson and has much of the feel of The Opium Cartel interpretation of the Blue Oyster Cult classic 'Then Came The Last Days Of May'. In fact very similar in tempo, its beautifully haunting spirit, it becomes the album security blanket.

'Nightmares' just manages to beat 'Cold Sweat', with the Gene Loves Jezebel (mentioned twice in one review?) and The Cult, takes me back to Lords Of The New Church. The part with the lyric 'if I die tomorrow', is a piece of beauty.

'Brothers And Sisters' is like plugging The Black Keys guitars into Jack White's amps, but those guys seem to make it fresh and less irritating, how do they do this? Try the 1.05 minute mark, where the more melodic portions just takes it away from being a pool of trudge. Adding softer portions you can find yourself attaching yourself to parts, yes cuddlier, like melodic rock Velcro.

'I Guess I Know You Fairly Well' has Royal Southern Brotherhood sliding next to Vintage Trouble. Quite balladic initially, but by adding a fuzzed riff they pump up the chorus, while the guitar solos like many on this album has a more blues feeling than a Malmsteen speed fest.

'You Are All That I Am Not' permits the group to take a rest, maybe even a backseat, a swamp like gospel chime. The chorus is immense, rattling guitars; the ending penetrates the senses. Muse like? Maybe but without all the pomp and ceremony.

'I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead And One Dying' (bit like Jose Mourinho's explaining his Chelsea teams somewhat poor start to the season) has a start like D.A.D, in fact and so is the middle refrain, it reminds me to play those Danes again. The riff destroys the melodicness, but that's ok, like how the riff in Radiohead's 'Creep' was initially meant to hurt that song, but became the life line.

With 'Toreador', well, do you remember how T'Ride did something completely different? If T'Ride were still recording then this would be the result, as energetic as Young Heart Attack, while mid-way it spills into a Gazpacho outtake, coming across as a Ennio Morricone spaghetti western film score.

'Heaven's Key' is damn well catchy, just when you thought it was all said and done they come up with this beauty. Again I am drawn to comparisons of Blue Oyster Cult and Muse. Hit singles are not usually found at the tail end.

Leaving 'Get Yourself Together' to have the cleanest sound, maybe grafted from the Mark Morriss solo album (who? please check articles 2014/5). It's like the group have gone through a car wash, similar to The Verve without being accused off pinching bits of the Rolling Stones (like they need the cash, same can be said about Tom Petty) Very melodic, excellent, a fitting finale to a great and interesting set of tunes.


In Summary
An album that travels well, but not always at the same speed or design. An album that makes you check the availability of tickets to see them in concert, but only to find them abroad. That's not good for a man without a passport, although I have visited Wales! It initially took time to sink in, but remember you wouldn't attempt a mountain climb without the necessary time and effort on preparation. But after hitting the summit I can't find a poor track among the dozen. When was the last time you could honestly say that? Now you will probably be thinking this is not your kind of thing, with no mention of Survivor, Toto, Journey etc., so of course you can take it or leave it, but please at least inquire!


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