Trampled under the heavy booted sounds of their excellent self-titled debut EP four years ago, UK heavy rockers XII Boar have just got sonically fiercer and more virulently compelling over time. Subsequent releases have continued the ignition of a hungry appetite in the British underground rock/metal scene for their rampantly aggressive and virulently grooved sounds, though nothing before matches up to the thrilling Southern fried might of debut album Pitworthy. Bulked up with ten tracks of muscular temptation with a mischievous glint in their eyes, the album is a thunderous stomp of virulently primal and dirty rock ‘n’ roll.
XII Boar hail from Aldershot and first came to light in 2010. It was not long before their blend of voracious metal and heavily slung rock ‘n’ roll was breeding a potent and loyal local following around Hampshire and the South East of the UK. Growing increasingly more distinct and individual to the band over time, their sound takes the richest and most aggressive strains of stoner, doom, blues, and southern metal and turns it into one incendiary blaze of sound, imagine Black Sabbath and Corrosion of Conformity colluding with Motorhead and Black Tusk for an inkling. It is probably fair to say that their early days which included that first EP, the band musically was offering a familiar if exciting proposal but as the Split Tongue, Cloven Hoof EP of 2012 and especially the single Truck Stop Baby last year came and went, XII Boar showed they were breeding their own musical identity, a presence now grabbing the passions in Pitworthy. It still has an instantly recognisable flavouring but now from the band’s own open sound rather than having a thick feel of others, though ripe hints are still a welcome spicing.
Live XII Boar has continued to impress and lure acclaim too, shows over the years with Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, ASG, and Karma To Burn as well as appearances at Bloodstock, Desert Fest, and Hard Rock Hell adding to their rising stature. It is a live feel which also seems to vein the new album, its tracks rampaging with that edge generally stages only inspire and immediately adding extra potency to the creativity and energy of album opener Sharpshooter. The song is introduced by a wrestling/boxing match like ring barker, and its entrance lit by a flame of sonic coaxing from the guitar of Tommy Hardrocks. That initial expulsion is swiftly left behind though as grooves flirt with and immediately entice ears as the thumping beats of Dave Wilbraham begin the incessant and invigorating battering which charges up the whole album. With the great heavy throated lure of Adam Thomas’ bass snarling with bestial temptation within it all, the trio has attention and imagination gripped. Hardrocks vocally roars and growls as the music around him, but already there are unpredictable twists and adventures crawling through the song. With older tracks in many ways once established you knew where they were creatively going but in the first song alone, Pitworthy reveals a fascinating depth and exciting tenacity to pull out the middle finger on expectations. Bottomline though is that the track is one commanding irresistible stomp, with all guns blazing and nostrils flared.
It is the same with the following Young Man, and to be honest the rest of the album too. The second song has a stronger blues spice to its fiery blood, toxic melodies and tantalising grooves providing the intoxicating liquor veining and flowing through the Down meets Desert Storm like shuffle. Rhythmically the track is a strongly enthralling and agitated groan whilst vocally it bellows and melodically it flames within a sultry climate embracing ears and emotions. It is compelling stuff igniting the air before the bruising weight of Crushing the P lumbers in and proceeds to press its own intensive and imposing bulk on the senses. Again though, grooves temper the rugged nature of the proposition, whilst inescapable infectiousness wraps the swing of rhythms and riffs. The song is an on-going predation too; every aspect increasing in magnetism until by its conclusion the crawling posture of the song is pure addiction.
The outstanding flirtation of The Schaeffer Boogie emerges out of those final throes of intensity, the track swiftly breaking into a robust and contagious slab of heavy temptation. Grooves swing with inescapable persuasion, casting an irresistible invitation for all to join their devilry, though we warn that their weighty movement will even worry young hips getting involved over long term exposure. Never taking a breath or allowing one, the song is sheer heavy rock majesty; not demanding, except on the body, and seriously exhilarating.
The grouchy tones of the album’s title track comes next, Hardrocks’ vocals a grizzly web of confrontation and attitude, and backed strongly by Thomas whose bass simply oozes cantankerous sounds and ferocity within the thick tapestry of temperamental and predatory sounds. The track is a tempest of drama and shadowed intrigue too, again every subsequent unexpected detour or twist in the nature and journey of the climactic offering surrounded by a rhythmic and riff sculpted catchiness which has feet and neck muscles exhausted.
The short Cajun aired instrumental Crawdaddy Blues is an ok interlude for the first couple of listens but to be honest ignored as appetite wants to dive back into the punk fury of Chicken Hawk again and again thereon in. The track is a brute of a companion, that punk seeded hostility and urgency a ripe tempting against the pungent heavy metal and ravenous rock ‘n’ roll it is aligned to. Pantera meets Converge yet different again, it is another major pinnacle of the already impressive release, a peak matched by Battle Boar. The rumbling rhythmic heart of the track is an anthemic call in its own right, and the fuse and detonator to a turbulent and hellacious conflict of intensive and insatiable energy. Riffs and rhythms collide with hostile intent, ridden by the equally abrasing and assertive vocals, whilst grooves are venomous and flailing in their scything enterprise. The track is a glorious sonic conflagration but too damn short at less than three minutes.
Rock City is smoky and at times like sonic vapour on the taste buds, a fine musical whisky which slips across the senses with smooth ease before unveiling its bite and spicy tang. As you would expect grooves and riffs make a tapestry of tart and colourful temptation whilst vocals and the deliciously imposing basslines help spark the old school predation fuelling all classic slabs of uncompromising rock ‘n’ roll. Compelling and rousing, the song is another towering anthem setting emotions up for the closing Quint, an eleven minute savaging unafraid to explore every avenue of heavy rock and ferocious metal whilst painting it all with a sludgy stoner hue. Arguably over long for some, every minute of the track is a new scene to run with and imaginative corner to dive down.
XII Boar has had little difficulty impressing and exciting since their first release but have creatively and musically come of age with Pitworthy. It thrusts the band to the frontline of British rock ‘n’ roll with even broader spotlights potentially awaiting as their excellent album surely begins to lure in the world.
Pitworthy is available now digitally and on CD via http://xiiboar.bandcamp.com/
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