The lure of a southern blues swamp is unleashed once again by Greek band Potergeist through new album Crocodile Teeth, and once more ears are treated to a contagion of dirty uncompromising rock ‘n’ roll which is as unique as it is familiar. The band has a sound which even with constant evolution across releases has a recognisable presence but comes as something undeniably individual to the Athens quintet. As the new album shows it is fresh and it is invigorating, and one thoroughly enjoyable stomp.
When forming in 2004, Potergeist had a more straight forward Kylesa /Down like southern metal sound as evidenced on debut album Southwards two years later. By the time of its successor Muddy Mermaids in 2012, the band’s sound had got harder and more aggressive whilst delving into the darkest depths of blues. Tagged as swamp metal by the media, the Potergeist sound was matched in progression by the attention given them and a live presence seeing the band share stages with the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Monster Magnet, Pro Pain, The Haunted, The Shrine, Kylesa, and Paradise Lost. The outstanding Swampires unleashed its swamp toxicity in 2013, Potergeist’s third album darker and more voracious in sound and presence again. Though not outgunned in attack and ferocity, fair to say Crocodile Teeth takes the Potergeist sound to yet another depth of quality and invention.
Feeling as intense and intimidating at times as the last release the Peter Rutcho (Falling in Reverse, Revocation, Bury Your Dead, Havok, Seemless, The Ghost Inside) produced and mixed Crocodile Teeth reveals the band’s fullest and rounded sound yet, settings its stall out in the brief intro Swamp Muse Summoning before going for the throat straight after with its title track. Riffs and rhythms are an immediate barrage and temptation backed by a quickly emerging tangy groove. It is the first bait to the sturdy stride of the song quickly accompanied by the grizzled tones of vocalist Alex S Wamp. He is soon showing the great prowess of his grouchy and clean tones as guitars and bass cast their own intimidating and dynamic enterprise. There are no major surprises in song, or indeed album, yet as suggested earlier there is freshness and distinctive essence which ensures this is no run of the mill metal or Potergeist offering.
The following Visit From A Swampire canters in on an infectious swing, riffs as rampant as the energetically skilled swings of drummer Tolis Toleas whilst grooves are as fiery as the melodies and solos which breed throughout. The track easily has body and emotions involved in its anthem as does What Then which comes next. The song is a touch more restrained in aggression and energy initially, but soon a bracing canter of raw riffs and rapier like rhythms entwined in the spicy grooves and bluesy melodic hooks of guitarists Nick XP and Stratal. Complete with an irresistible swagger, the song keeps things boiling over before in turn making way for the southern metal drawl and heavy rock brew of Truth. The track begins with the same groove the previous song left on but is soon sculpting its own tenacious and aggression roar. There is a touch of Crowbar in some ways to the song as the bass of Kostis Vihos brings a predatory proposal against the as dramatic but more welcoming vocals and sonic adventure cast elsewhere.
Atonement takes over next and is soon spreading a weave of southern rock inspired melodic spicing around the ever formidable and engaging rhythmic strength of the Potergeist sound. Featuring guest backing vocals from Anna Stephanou, the song is a warm slice of blues rock ‘n’ roll equipped with a dark edged groove and a blaze of imagination around the constant lure of Wamp’s vocals.
Roaming ears with a thick stance of sinew swung beats and bestial riffs The Preacher And The Witch stalks the appetite next with its magnetic web of sound. Both Fotis Benardo and Penelope Anastasopoulou add additional vocals to the tapestry of sonic and melodic craft. It is a fine song if without the spark of certainly the early songs, though much is down to a big personal appetite for when Potergeist go hell for leather in their rock ‘n’ roll, and quickly over shadowed by the excellent Eve. It too is more reserved in its gait and coveting a more classic metal whisper to its body but moulds everything and more of the band’s potent enterprise into a pungent slab of anthemic persuasion.
The album closes with Last Punk Standing, a compelling bellow of a song aligning mellower melodic tempting with a rigorous snarl resulting in a dramatic and impressive end to another mighty offering from Potergeist. We will admit that the previous Swampires still has the steal on the passions but there is no denying that Crocodile Tears is the band’s most accomplished proposition yet and one of the most enjoyable and satisfying slabs of metal driven rock ‘n’ roll you will hear this year.
Crocodile Tears is available digitally now and on CD and Vinyl via G.O.D. Records