I’d already written “stoner rock” the minute Get Gone kicked in but it transpires something is at play here. The guitar riff is so similar to that of Monster Magnet’s Twin Earth, that it borders on the identical. Unusually I am going to side with Buzzard here – firstly because their song rattles along at a speed of knots with space-echo vocals and fuzz guitar growls, and washes its hands after four and a half minutes of jolly good old fashioned rawk. Why pick holes? It was a good riff to start with, it’s nice that it has popped its head around the corner again.
I was even hasty with the pigeonholing. Follow-up, Kingdom, though cross-eyed with lumbering weight and volume, doesn’t have the vast space and moon-howling of the epic bludgeoning of sludge rock, rather a malevolent saunter and a deft skein of melody that would otherwise be buried – there’s rather more of the savvy swing and key changes you might associate with Masters of Reality. Track three, the splendidly-titled Sea Witch, has a beautifully drooping ‘we’re coming to get you’ malevolence, an unclean distant cousin to Cream’s Politician. Truly, all three tracks are fantastic tranches of Sabbathy audience-baiting, tracks that simultaneously make you want them to unleash the straining racehorse within them, whilst also making you yearn for them not to end.
There’s variety here too – the likes of Fists of Thunder have a slightly comedic late 70’s/early 80’s metal trundle to them, not a million miles from Diamond Head, whom they have supported, so I feel relatively safe throwing that in there. Although there’s the suspicion of a raised eyebrow or two on the earlier tracks, it’s the first glimpse of the band enjoying themselves – their live shows seem disappointingly limited in the UK, but there’s every sign that they may be a thrilling prospect in the musical flesh.
My endless supply of rotten fruit is not permanently at hand for no good reason though. Feathers is a rather Deftones-y noisy ballad, precisely not the pace-drop the album required and almost by numbers, the number you wander off to the bar at, to return with a brand of beer you would never ordinarily buy, in a vessel made out of a primitive plastic even Cro-Magnon man would have been embarrassed by. Blood, Sweat and Beers, a song surely draped around a title, never takes off, a Sunday night blues jam in a pub: something you’d clap and then feel a bit self-conscious about having done so. The final track, I Live Forever, is also something of a misfire, a self-congratulatory instrumental coda which feels rather forced, especially following the lesser tracks on the album.
There is hope here. Not that they’re become stars; not that they’ll get a huge album deal; not even that their next album might be better. Hope that it’s still worth plugging in and having a go. Be entertaining. Be disrespectful. Be, as a wise man once said, “any good”. There’s no need for music to posture or prompt slow stroking of one’s chin. You’re a rock band. Don’t behave.