With the greatly impressive song Mr Nobody a constant presence on the daily playlist here and recently featured on The Bone Orchard podcast from The Reputation Radio Show, the anticipation for the debut album from UK rock band The Self Titled was an eagerly growing itch which only the release could alleviate. Sometimes such eagerness ends in disappointment such the expectations placed upon something but with Defaced, the band not only matched but easily surpassed those hopes. The album is a bruising slab of rock power brought with quality craft and invention. It has no pretence towards or delusions of breaking down boundaries but if there has been a better and more exhilarating collection of pure rock n roll tracks it is hard to bring them to mind over the past year with only the Trucker Diablo album able to match what The Self Titled have unleashed.
From Kent the quintet of vocalist Mark Campbell, guitarists Darren Towner and Dan Wright, bassist Steve Hobbs, and Paul Brander on drums, has become one of the most prolific and sought after bands across the UK, their dynamic stage performances leading them to supporting the likes of Kobra and the Lotus, Forever never and Jezabel Deva and thrilling festivals alongside bands such as Status Quo, The Damned, and Gun. Defaced was due to be recorded in April of 2011 but such the demand for them on the live circuit the band had to be put it back due to lack of time to give it the attention it deserved. Now they have been able to find that space and have unveiled an album which is deeply rewarding and pleasing. One doubts the band would ever put out something rushed or substandard but the album is of such might it proved the decision to wait was correct. Last year also saw the band lined up to sign with Blaze Bayley Recordings, the label set up by the man himself and would have been one of his first signings but things as happens did not quite work out and the band decided not to follow that link up.
The Self Titled has a sound which ignites all the best elements of rock and metal to combine them into a feisty force of infectious and compulsive sounds. There is at times a trash tendency which reminds of latter day Metallica but the Americans for all their good songs have never excited as much on their recent albums as the Brits easily do on Defaced. The album is not only impressive in its sound and songwriting but in the extremely high consistency from the opening triumph Soul Control through to the closing piece of might The Silence. The opener emerges on a sonic scraping of the ear to immediately explode in to a riotous surge of busy and hungry riffs and eager rhythms. The guitars flash and thrust with dramatic energy and the bass of Hobbs is a prowling brew of delicious contempt, whilst the vocals of Campbell with admittedly a more than slight Hetfield tone rasp and draw the lyrics perfectly. The song is an immense and undeniable start.
From here on in its simply impressive track after track, the likes of the following Twisted with its incisive rhythms from Brander alongside the mesmeric guitar play and the insatiable Stomp leaving one breathless and eager for more without reservation. The second of these two is a blistering storm of imaginative melodic rock and greedy riffs which is irresistible. If infectiousness could be bottled this track would be its advertising soundtrack, a nonstop exercise in perfect rock n roll.
Evert track is a highlight on Defaced but there is always a soft spot for My Nobody. The song within seconds lights up the ear with guitar and bass beckoning as irresistible as the vocals are brooding. It is another rampaging riot upon the senses with everything about it instinctively siren like, though the most muscular one you are likely to meet. With jabbing beats, bustling riffs, and brewing atmosphere building up to incendiary and wonderfully concussive crescendos it is one of the best songs unveiled this year.
The rest of the album though does not ever pale against the song with those previously mentioned and songs like the inventive Warped and the final song The Silence a quality match. The first is a clever blend of teasing grooves and again irrepressibly infectious riffs with intelligent provocative atmospheres and ingenuity, especially in the unexpected aside mid song. The last track is brings an outstanding close to the album to rival the outstanding start. The song bustles and presses the ear with an inciting air and power to leave one drained yet desperate to dive back in to the album right away.
Defaced is truly outstanding and though there was a belief it would be good it swept those aside with something far more impressive in stature and quality. UK rock and metal has never been healthier with The Self Titled leading the way.
Tune into The Bone Orchard as it brings choice cuts from Defaced over the weeks ahead