British alternative rockers Bad Llama have taken their time to find the right ingredients in their character and sound but on the evidence of their debut EP and its lead single, the Burton Upon Trent based quintet have found that moment and then some. The Shedding Skin EP is a powerful and emotively atmospheric proposal, all creative muscle and melodic fire, and its first single The Wolf You Feed, a slice of thick enterprise.
The current line-up of the band stepped forward earlier this year but under previous name, Wet Lettuce and the Magik Bean, Bad Llama formed in 2012. Taking their time to find the right vocalist, the first year was spent as an instrumental proposal before frontman Kyle Jordan and bassist Lewis Hutchings joined the band in 2013. Completed by drummer Gaz Waddell and guitarists Dan Houlbrooke and Sam Wyatt, the five-piece has reached the moment where real attention is taking notice of them and especially their new ear pleasing releases.
EP opener, The Healer slowly looms up on the senses, its atmospheric presence almost portentous even as lively rhythms and an inviting hook pave the way for the potent vocals of Jordan. Instantly there is a thick catchiness to the song, the bass of Hutchings swinging along as beats match its brooding stride. The slower chorus brings a darker ambience though again the band cleverly blend shadows with crystaline radiance as variation in voice and sound impress. It is a captivating start to the release; a song full of intrigue and twists suggesting it is going in one direction only to move in another and back again.
The band’s new single strolls in next, The Wolf You Feed led by another hook lined melody before exotic hues escape the guitar, Jordan and Hutchings grabbing the imagination with their relative tempting. The bass is especially compelling though matched by the spicy liquor of Houlbrooke and Sam Wyatt’s melody fuelled exploits while Waddell’s arms swing with a creative tenacity which makes his beats magnetic. Fair to say that the great start to Shedding Skin just got better, the fiery solo within boiling sonic fumes a shot of additional goodness to flavour an emotional ride through depression and turmoil.
Paint in Sound steps forward next with a familiar yet indefinable air to its bubbly melody and contagious tone. Inspirations to the band include the likes of Incubus, Tool, Soundgarden, Jane’s Addiction, Korn, and Pearl Jam, and it is the first pair in that list which most come to mind though even with its seemingly recognisable nature, the song confirms that Bad Llama are developing a sound distinct to them; something as here gripping ears and imagination.
A mellower proposition in many ways compared to its predecessors, 10 Years Time swiftly shows it too has a tempestuously emotive heart and rugged creative teeth to its body. The song is a volcano, bubbling up and erupting with emotion and intensity within a darkly lit reflective landscape, Jordan impressing again as he shares the song’s heart.
With their EP completed by the pleasure breeding Exile, Bad Llama has attention and imagination in the palms of their hand by the time Shedding Skin disappears. They have come a long way since their previous guise and sound, employing a maturity and invention which ensures each song has its moment of sole attention. You get the feeling there is still plenty more to come too, the band still on the lower rungs of their creativity meaning their next steps will only be eagerly awaited.
The Shedding Skin EP and The Wolf You Feed single are out now across most online stores.
21.10.16 – O2 Academy 3, Birmingham
28.10. 16 The Leopard Inn, Burton
Pete RingMaster 10/10/2016
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