Anticipation for the second part of his absorbing album has been as excited as it has been impatient, but Johnny Wore Black has rewarded the wait with another proposition which stops you in your tracks and immerses ears and imagination in an evocative embrace. The hunger for Walking Underwater Pt 2 comes from the strikingly impressive Part 1, an emotional canvas drenched in poetic melodies and fiery textures. Its release came in March of this year but such the appetite it bred the months between seemed like years. Its successor is here now, released on November 26th, and with even closer intimacy and impassioned imagination re-confirms the band as one of the UK’s premier melodic rock provocateurs.
Johnny Wore Black is the brainchild of London based songwriter/producer and stuntman (Les Miserables, The Dark Knight Rises, Fast and Furious 6, Fury ) who prefers to just be known as Jay. As renowned for his collaborations as well as his own work, Jay released a host of attention grabbing and riveting singles as the band before the first part of this debut album. Many of the songs were bred from a gripping collaboration with Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, and as on Part 1, the pair has linked up again on Walking Underwater Pt 2 with Ellefson co-writing a trio of tracks for it and playing bass across the bulk of the release. The band line-up is completed by drummer Simon Hutchby alongside guitarists Pete Mathers and James Coppolaro, the latter mixing much of the album with other tracks mixed by Grammy Award winning producer David Bottrill. Produced by Jay, the release takes little time in re-igniting the pleasure and emotions which were stoked by its predecessor, leading them into rich emotion fuelled reflections and sonically coloured atmospheres.
Opener Firefly sets things in motion and from the first electro influenced moment has the imagination engaged and then fired up as rich hooks and rugged riffs embrace ears. There is an immediate infectiousness which transfers to the potent vocals of Jay and the crisp rhythmic persuasion which guides the inventively spicy song. The song’s delicious throaty bassline aligns to sonic scythes and persistent grooves from the guitars as the song expands whilst the vocals smoulder harmonically and expressively as they colour the provocative narrative of the song. It all combines to provide a thick and potent stroll of anthemic rock ‘n’ roll coated in creative drama and emotive intrigue.
It is a potent and impressive start continued by recent single A Cut Above. From a charming melodic coaxing the song unveils its rhythmic muscles and raw riff led provocation. It is an imposing presence tempered though by the increasingly mesmeric tones of Jay and the weave of sonic enterprise which wraps the brewing unrest in the belly of the song. Again Ellefson lures a heavily shadowed voice from his bass to menace and enthral whilst elsewhere everything merges in a portentous tempest which threatens more than assaults but leaves thoughts rampant and satisfaction basking. Again the track is an anthem, not one which charges with nostrils flared but an incitement which rouses the passions as it explores dark intense scenery.
Both Comfy Slippers and Fallen Angel explore different shades and depths, the album just as the previous full-length, a web of distinctly unique and imaginative explorations in sound and premise. The first of the two swiftly presents a pungent almost stadium rock texture to its emerging temptation, beats and hooks thick yet rapier like in the less condensed climate of the song. There is a warm radiance to the rock pop spawned encounter too which transfixes as it envelops and helps spark further hunger in an already greedy appetite for the album. The song pulsates in its melodic glow before making way for the scintillating drama of its successor. Every note and syllable has a sinister air and touch here, a haunted feel which is simultaneously sultry and alluring. As already proven Jay has the knack and skill at making dark and intense situations musically and lyrically seduce like a unashamedly flirtatious temptress, at making loud and subtle extreme collude for an inescapable web of aural theatre and no example any finer than right here.
Gift of Desperation steps up next and takes little time in absorbing ears and thoughts with its pulsing electronic courting which itself is soon wrapped in emotive resonance as vocals and slender but striking melodies entwine the sinew sculpted heart of the song. It has a dark and imposing presence which never drifts too far away from predacious heaviness and a destructive emotional theming, but it also expels blazes of sonic and harmonic passion courted by tempestuous tenacity and intensity. The outstanding track is unrelenting as it flares and traps the passions with stormy beauty, creating a consuming shadowed majesty which I Do Dissolve has to follow. It does in fine style, its vivaciously shimmering electro flooded entrance equipped with another irresistible vocal bassline and the grippingly expressive tones of Jay. It is just the initial lure though as a funky swagger infests the song to inspire a sturdy bounce which in turn seems to ignite the richness and theatrical elements of all corners of the song. For some reason the track at times reminds of Ugly Kid Joe, though it is a fleeting thought in the expansive enterprise of the fun.
The brilliant Noise carves another pinnacle, of which admittedly there are many, in the album, again dramatic suggestiveness coating every sway of notes and swing of strings. Challenging modern social habits online and beyond, the song is virtually smooching with ears and emotions from its first melancholic kiss and caress. To this tempting, crescendos of raw expression and ferocious sonic endeavour bursts in, hooks and riffs as antagonistic as the melodic heart of the track is tenacious. Seriously anthemic and the heaviest encounter on the album, the track is rock at its most instinctive and incendiary.
Featuring Croatian singer Sara Renar alongside Jay, Shine On glides in next to cup ears in enchanting melody seducing balladry. As expected there is still a dark edge to the song, a shadow which watches as the beauty colours senses and imagination. Though a slow burning persuasion in relation to other tracks, it soars into the emotions and memory with ease, its sonic flair and emotive tempting a lingering affair even after making way for the outstanding Whose Children. This is another song where hooks and grooves entrench in the listener with swift efficiency before flavoursome diversity in voice and sonic invention tango together in a compelling and ingenious design of suasion.
From that highlight the album leaves on another in the engrossing shape of Winter in July. A cover of the Loretta Heywood song, it also features the soul singer alongside Jay and as it soars and glides over the senses with a haunting elegance and harmonic grace, there will be few duets as powerful and thrilling as the album’s final track.
There were obviously high hopes and expectations for Walking Underwater Pt 2 because of its predecessor but also a wonder and maybe doubt whether lightning can strike twice in the same place in such a short time. Not only can it but it proves to be with greater scintillating success. The UK has numerous potential soaked melodic rock bands emerging, but with their promise realised and pushed on again, Johnny Wore Black is leading the way.
Walking Underwater Pt 2 is available digitally and on CD from November 26th via Dark Cherry.
For more info check out http://www.johnnyworeblack.com
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