I try not to let a band’s image or history get in the way of the music – Bowie’s alleged Nazi salutes don’t make Changes any less of a tune – and Bono’s charity do-gooding can’t rescue anything that U2 released after 1995. However, I find it hard not to sympathise a little more with the angst, pain and frustration in the music of bands like Alice in Chains, Nirvana and The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster knowing the hardship some members went through in fighting heroin addiction.
When I hear the opening salvo of “Blood & Fire” first song “Love Turns to Hate”, I’m immediately reminded of Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Bulls on Parade’ with its explosive drums, driving bass and harsh, raw guitar sounds. But it soon gives way to something more typical of this album – a stripped-down verse with almost spoken-word lyrics very reminiscent of [the Dead Kennedys’] Jello Biafra. The Dead Kennedys similarities continue strongly in the next song ‘Mission From God’ – a fast paced song typical of 80′s U.S. punk-rock – but with very personal, emotional lyrics, rather than the rage against society or corporate culture so common to that style.
‘So Long Good Night’ breaks the mould on this album – sounding like a modern ‘House of the Rising Sun’. It’s not quite so epic as the Animals seminal tune, but it has the tragic story, the rousing chorus and the simple-but-effective guitar solo.
The middle of the album merges into one somewhat – it’s a blend of ‘Queens of the Stone Age’ and an occasional bit of Bowie with 60′s U.S. garage music and psychobilly. At times it’s like a dark ‘jive’ and I find myself doing the twist to the infectious beats and simple, catchy riffs.
The album picks up again at the end, emerging in to ‘Homemade’, which has a storming chorus that Iron Maiden would be proud of and some real smart, melodic guitar work – which has a slightly ‘Dire Straits’ feel to it. ‘Never be the Same’ is like an up-tempo version of the Beatles’ ‘While my Guitar Gently Weeps’, and seems to be both a lament and a warning about the trap of heroin addiction. ‘Are you Living’ is an apocalyptic foot-stomper, dominated by the chorus lyrics ‘In time, you will learn to love me’.
It’s not often a band manages to sound so fresh with so many similarities to others’ sounds, but TEMBD pull it of with the sheer weight of emotion and energy – not to mention talent – that they have put into this album.
Release Date 17/05/2010 (Black Records)