There is no escaping the buzz which has powerfully brewed around The Bastard Sons since emerging in 2011 and especially over the past couple of years, and no evading the reason why, once losing yourself in the riotous depths of the band’s debut album Smoke. It is a bulging sack of pure rock ‘n’ roll cast in a maelstrom of flavours showing exactly why the broad term rock ‘n’ roll is the best way to describe the band’s tenacious sounds. At times it is southern rock led, in other moments hardcore driven, and very often metal sparked; to be honest it is constantly all of those and far more, a beast of a stomp sure to incite the passions of fans to everyone from Down to Cancer Bats, Ghost of a Thousand to Black Tusk, Bloodsimple to Hellyeah, and Stone Temple Pilots to Stone Sour.
Around and since the release of their second EP Roads in the March of 2014, the British quintet has been a blur of activity drawing increasing success at the same time. A US tour with Throw The Goat pushed the band’s growing reputation stateside whilst praised appearances at Hammerfest VI and Bloodstock, a tour supporting hardcore punks Snot, and shows alongside ’68, the new project of Josh Scogin from The Chariot, and also Cavorts amongst many others has taken care of the appetites of British fans and media. Earlier this year the York hailing five-piece dropped a potent and quickly devoured teaser for Smoke in the shape of the single Release The Hounds, a dynamic hint realised and taken to greater plateaus by the album itself.
The Bastard starts things off, southern fried chords the initial lure, though for barely a squeeze of seconds as quickly the band with sinew loaded riffs and rhythms bursting set up a riotous stomp of energy and sound. Vocals, as the music, come in varied styles, hardcore and cleaner rock ‘n’ roll tones colluding in a tempestuous incitement with anthem tattooed to its gripping walls. There is a touch of Pantera, Motorhead, and Every Time I Die to the storm, but as repeated song by song, it is just flavouring honed into something unique to The Bastard Sons.
The earlier single comes next, and quickly Release The Hounds shows why it had so many feisty for the album, its opening grooves and vocal scowling within a rugged landscape enough to get ears smiling and appetite drooling alone. The heart of the track is unfussy rock ‘n’ roll, a balls to the wall roar coloured and constantly reshaped by flirtatious sonic enterprise and sudden compelling twists of unpredictability, musically and vocally. It is the seed design to all tracks within Smoke in many ways, but persistently twisted and taken down new and individual avenues as swiftly shown by Sobre La Muer… and before it A Lie Is A Lie. The third track rages and croons with incendiary textures and addiction forming grooves whilst its successor casts a sultry air more in Seether/Shinedown territory than anything else, yet with a predatory dark bassline and a steely touch to the guitars, it carries a constant intimidation which strongly expels its fury from time to time. Nevertheless it and the previous song are inescapable anthemic traps; the lure somewhere between Them County Bastardz and The BossHoss, and fiercely contagious.
Bottom Of The Ladder growls and sonically grizzles with scuzzy magnetism next, guitars and vocals a dirty incitement stirring up ears and soul whilst the group calls work, along with the thumping rhythms, on the body and primal instincts. As anthemic in intensity and roar as it is, the track also unleashes an agitated and gripping web of aggressive twists and belligerence toned creativity, its presence ready to brawl at the drop of a hook or scything beat.
The southern drawl of guitars brings I’m Only A Call Away alive next, the song once standing tall writhing like a barroom temptress with inescapable grooves amidst a volatile fistfight of rhythms and the ever fiery and impressive mesh of vocals. As already shown by their live history, The Bastard Sons has a sound which works with, and appeals to, a vast expanse of rock and metal styles, that diversity in no finer and pungent shape than on this fascinating riot.
Through the brief and hellacious, as well as uncompromisingly emotive landscape of the fiercely angry U.S Against Them and the classic metal lined rock ‘n’ roll of Listen Here, band and album keep the thrilling storm blazing whilst Cardboard Walls saunters in on a rhythmic confrontation bound in more of the sludgy southern wrapping the band breeds so invitingly. A suggestive hint of Crowbar appears at times within the fire of sizzling grooves and snarling riffing, but as you may assume the track, whilst being one of the more restrained adventures on the album, it simply layers more flavours and varied textures into one enthralling mix.
Like a sandstorm, vocals shower and scar Scene(ic) Root(s) next to thick success, but equally they slip into cleaner gaits with ease and power to match the similarly volcanic and pleasingly exacting sounds. The track burns on the senses, simultaneously exciting and bruising before Stay True spreads its warmer balm. Featuring Glamour Of The Kill vocalist Davey Richmond, the track is a shadow brewed serenade as atmospherically and vocally haunting as it is emotionally and physically mercurial, and quite mesmeric.
Smoke finishes with the equally potent but far more capricious and intrusive Exist-Distance, a track which kind of sums up band and album with its constant weaving of different flavours and creative twists within a perfectly coherently cultured body, and another song which stands individual in the cast list of easy to recognise Bastard Sons songs.
We gave a list of bands at the start which sort of gives a hint at who might find thick pleasure from exploring one of the year’s real treats so far. To simplify it though, if raw and passionate, imaginative and ravenous rock ‘n’ roll hits the spot than Smoke is a must.
Smoke’ is available from 7th August 2015 via Kaiju Records @ https://thebastardsons.bandcamp.com/