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Thursday 5 November 2020

Reviews: Tony Reed, Uncut, Swamp Thief, Shattered Hope (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Tony Reed: Funeral Suit (Ripple Music)

Those of you that indulge in the stoner/doom/psych sound you will probably be keenly aware of Tony Reed, the singer/multi-instrumentalist is not only the vocalist/guitarist/main writer in Mos Generator since their foundation in 2000, he is also redefining 'lost classics' with his The Lost Chronicles Of Heavy Rock project and has had a hand in engineering over 180 albums in the stoner/doom genre. So then he has a pretty strong pedigree going into what is only his second 'official' solo record after the Lost Chronicles record. After that record I was interested in seeing what Reed would do with another solo album as he seems to have a huge amount of creativity with Mos Generator. 

Well against the grain we get Funeral Suit which sees Reed making is most introspective and personal album to date, recorded with the ethos of such folk troubadours like Cat Stevens, Simon & Garfunkel and CSN and released through Ripple Music's Blood And Strings acoustic series. What we have is Reed laying himself bare with minimal instruments/production techniques just Reed's resonant voice, a guitar plus a piano used for additional melody on the Gothic Wicked Willow. With the haunting title track, the bluesy Lonely One, the dramatic Might Just... a song that sounds like it could be a Chris Cornell solo song as the album closes with Who Goes There a track that takes the moody Nick Cave route. Funeral Suit is yet another testament to Tony Reed as a writer and performer even when things are stripped back. 7/10    

Uncut: Blue (Klonosphere)

French trio Uncut take things back to the glory days of blues rock, bringing the heavy blissed out grooves of legends such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream along with more modern acts like Clutch and Red Fang filtered through some 90's grunge heaviness (Display). Much of this album is built around the mountainous drumbeats of Pablo Fathi who underpins tracks like Family Blues and Deandra with major percussive blasts while also turns a deft hand to the slow burners such as Blue Eyes Lover, which shifts into a frenzied finale, and the moody Deep Purple-like baroque styling of Bee Blues. It's here that Enzo Alfano can show his fluid lead guitar playing that is highly influenced by players such as Rory Gallagher, Eric Clapton and even Jimmy Page channeling the blues through the that 60's/70's rock scene where it ruled the world, just check out The Trap where he really lets loose. Finally we have Alexy Sertillange who's gritty, soulful vocals add a massive amount of emotion while his Baritone guitar playing gives the band an added heaviness as it gives a downtuned fuzz to Snake Boogie and also to the oddly jazzy Diplodocus which features some parping sax. Tapping that rich vein of classic rock legacy but with some stoner and grunge aggression that makes them sound very American, music wise Uncut are on a journey towards much wider acclaim. 7/10   

Swamp Thief: Swamp Thief I (Self Released)

Hailing from Wales second city Swansea, Swamp Thief are a two-piece that bring down-tuned sludgy stoner riffs, constructed from straightforward but powerful drumming of Marc Lockwood and the vocals of Simon Bevan, who takes a gritty Southern drawl that will appeal to fans of bands such as Corrosion Of Conformity and Kyuss, really any band that rely on riffs, huge monolithian riffs using a technique that Bevan has perfected that layers two guitars and a bass to work through just one solitary guitar, it's a neat trick that gives guts to songs like Maelstrom Queen and the raging Tides. At just four songs I is a brief introduction to what Swamp Thief can do and while other two piece bands such as Royal Blood, The Black Keys and even The Graveltones have heavy blues influenced moments, Swamp Thief take things to a more ear-splitting level using their 20+ years of experience to make an earth shattering noise. With the promise of new material every year Swamp Thief could be a bright new act on the South Wales scene. 7/10

Shattered Hope: Vespers (Solitude Productions)

The third full length from Greek death/doom band Shattered Hope doesn't shift their sound in any way, in fact it strengthens their resolve as this album features five 10 minute plus tracks that features oppressive, funeral riffs that drag you into a their intelligent darkness. All of the songs here feature slow, crushing riffs, deft drumming and guttural vocals, with a lyrical content that is deeply based in the philosophical drawing influence from Swallow The Sun, My Dying Bride and Novembers Doom amongst others. The low-tuned riffs and punching bass are augmented by some atmospheric strings on Towards The Land Of Deception and the colossal 15 minute closer The Judas Tree. As I've said Vespers is the band's third record following on from their 2010 debut and a 2014 follow up that moved more into the funereal sound that appears here, adding a mournful, discordant tone for a darker overall feel Vespers is an album designed for these long, cold, dark nights. 6/10

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