For most here will be the first time they have even read the name of Scottish band Black Cat Theory let alone heard their excellent rock sounds but with the release of their debut album Magnetic Fields that will surely change. Consisting of ten excellent varied slices of blended hard rock/electronica/ metal the album is a joy from start to finish. It plays like an old friend, the music easily accessible and powerful, wrapped in instantly agreeable hooks and riffs that maybe do not create new musical avenues but stir the blood and lift the senses.
Black Cat Theory started with multi-instrumentalist Stuart Bell, fully finding its teeth with the addition of vocalist Steve Martin and his distinct voice and lyrical style. Together the duo from Dunfermline, have combined to create an album that is well written, strongly performed and most of all is genuinely satisfying.
Magnetic Fields, its name inspired by the same titled artwork from photographer Ben Shillabeer that graces the album draws influences and heart from a multi-genre flavouring that brings vibrancy to it. At times there is a definite familiarity within its eager songs that reminds of other bands but it never loses its own solid identity.
‘Come On Inside’ kicks off the fun with a riff bouncing eighties rock sound, light and irrepressible it is a lively start to the album. The keyboard sounds pouncing behind the driving guitars and Martin’s gravelly tones, give the song a playful buzz that even if not a fan of rock from the influencing decade makes the ear welcome heartedly.
As mentioned there is a cross genre base to the songs within Magnetic Fields, from the classic rock drive of ‘Poets Of Madmen’, the glorious soft rock semi acoustic emotive ‘Mircalla’, to the harder metal lined attack of ‘Windows Of Memory’ recalling Therapy? at their height, the attack of the album is impressively variable in flavour and directly gratifying in quality. Each track whether a full on delivery or a mellower flow has an addictive sing-a-long facet that is impossible to ignore or resist.
The consistency across all songs is extremely strong but some tracks stand out with more urgency and appeal. The Metallica/Primer 55 attack of ‘Dereliction’ with a winding prowling groove and big majestic riffs is immense, matched by the driving big rhythm of ‘Sons Of Destiny’ with a Hetfield tinged vocal, and ‘I Am The Hurricane’ containing rumbling riffs and a fine guitar solo that grabs attention. Black Cat Theory never shirk on the elements that makes rock an essential listen.
Magnetic Fields closes on two instrumentals which in different ways are expressively creatively and emotionally. ‘Lakeview Hotel’ is inspired by the computer game Silent Hill 2. In a blog Bell said about the piece “Part ambient piece, part sound collage, part instrumental guitar piece, Lakeview Hotel is essentially a love note to the video game Silent Hill 2.” The track is a consuming atmospheric track successfully creating and installing the strong emotive feel of the game though even anyone not aware of it will find the song an effectively play on the senses and emotions nevertheless. With searching synths, hopeful melodic hooks, and menacing riffs all that is missing is the suffocating oppressive fog from its inspiration. ‘Blind One Way’ is an infectious slice of electronica, completely different to the rest of the album but just as agreeable leaving the listener with a smile on the face.
Magnetic Fields is a joy, a wide ranging blast of heavy melodic metal/rock that engages and thrills in equal measure. With the added bonus of the album being available for free from the band’s own website www.blackcattheory.co.uk all should check out Black Cat Theory, they could just be your new musical best friend.