After five years of radio silence, the cult horror-punks from Brighton resurrect themselves with their third studio album ‘Blood And Fire.’ This is an album that has new blood coursing through its veins after the departure of lead guitarists Andy Huxley and Rich Fownes, Tristan McLenahan adds a new rawness to the audio chaos since ‘The Royal Society’. ‘Blood And Fire‘ has managed to re-affirm them as one of the UK’s most important and diverse bands with its genre-bending prowess and memorable, anthemic tracks give you a new perspective on an already faultless band.
With a punchy and upbeat start, ‘Love Turns To Hate’ has McKnight’s dynamic vocals holding centre-stage, seemingly separating himself into two separate styles, this is closely followed by McLenahan’s uniquely surreal guitars that whips up the listener into a Cramps style frenzy. ‘Mission From God’ kicks it up a notch with unrelenting and brutal rhythm guitar, imaginative, ad-libbed leads and quirky backing vocals give an impression that this album was no easy feat to write.
A change of pace comes with ‘So Long, Goodnight’ a melodic, almost ballad-esque track which is quite a surprise to hear mixed in with the rest of the album. From the off, we are presented with a Mexican-influenced lead, menacing drums and strong lyrics that are tightly packed and delivered to the listener on a tone-perfect bed of melancholy. This however is not the case with ‘Under My Chin’ Although, short it inspires nothing but shock and awe with its presentation, crazy-heavy guitars fuel the power-laden drums in this concerto of music to bounce to.
‘Riptin’ is a welcome return to TEMBD of the past, here the band gives us a creep-tastic three-and-a-half-minute riot. The hefty guitars take the track on a rollercoaster through from angry to angrier still only to have an inspired drum track race it to the end for total superiority. Keeping the aggressive tone is ‘Monsieur Cutts’ – a track which has to be the strongest on the album with McKnight’s throat-shredding vocals that tear through this monster at break-neck speed, something that has to be a must live.
Meanwhile, ‘I Hate the Blues’ is a real horror-rocker that will have you glued to the dancefloor – The Damned’s influence on the Eighties Matchbox has never been more evident than on this, sinister wails and goth-tinged guitar sounds create an ezquisite bone-shaker of a tune.
‘Man Of All Seasons’ sounds distinctly like Gibby Haynes (Butthole Surfers) is at the helm. It comes at you with an erratic bass-line and a soaring vocal range that can leave you a little bemused as to what is going on. A polar opposite though is ‘Don’t Ask Me to Love You’ – this is a superb and gritty track filled with memories of a life/love lost delicately played out with subtle, emotive vocals to suddenly have them blown away by a powerful and dominating drum-riff to end all riffs.
Next up, ‘Homemade’ is a solid number which has a excellent rock and roll architecture to it but lacks the creative diversity that is present throughout the rest of the album. Although not to be pushed aside, it’s just one of those tracks better suited to the B-side treatment. Returning to the core of the band’s roots is ‘Never Be The Same’ – dirty desert rock-styled bass-lines and beautifully punishing guitars really hammer this album home. The darker, rougher side of TEMBD oozes from this track and stays in your head for days after begging you to listen again. Their final offering on here is ‘Are You Living?’. You cannot help but hear this as a track as something from the latter half of System Of A Down’s career – the verses build toward an amazing crescendo provided by the immensely kick-ass chorus. The guitars set the standard for quality and variation in anything else to land this year from the UK’s best and brightest.
TEMBD have exhumed themselves with a quality album and it has proved that the five-year rest from the studio has gone to good use, but if possible lads, try not to leave it another five, yeah?
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