Here is a band that made a justifiable noise in the press and on record with their debut album Murder And The Motive…now Those Damn Crows are ready to share the next step in their development with their second album called Point Of No Return. For me, any band from Wales has a flying start as, with a few glaring exceptions, that little country has served up some of the best rock across the years. This five-piece from the less than glamorous town of Bridgend is now included in the list of great rock from Wales because that strong debut has been backed up with an even stronger second (or sophomore or difficult, as oft defined by press and reviewers) album. The only warning I will give is that the real world subjects addressed across the thirteen songs include suicide, depression and self harm…do not be put off though as the approach is as sensitive as it is hard-hitting and, after all, these things do happen and do need addressing.
Opening with Who Did It, the quality immediately emerges as the Sabbath does Free riff gives way to the dulcet tones of Shane as he proves what a strong vocalist he is…he is also what I call a proper vocalist: he doesn’t need to try too hard or shoehorn unwarranted inflections into his melodies…he is good without histrionics or strangulations! The chorus is going to draw you in and stay with you. Set In Stone has a maniacal riff as the frantic pace from the rhythm section bites deep…the slower midsection again shows strong and sensitive vocals. Sin On Skin, despite the subject matter, will also stay in the mind as the slow build leads to another majestic and heavy riff…even if the detractors will sing “Now I’m Here”.
Be You is another catchy as a catchy thing that has you joining in, especially on the “ah, ah, aah, woah, woah”s! Never Win provides a bit of a breather as this piano led ballad envelops you in the vocal and instrumental melodies. Not quite the best ever piano ballad; that belongs to Priest’s Epitaph, but it’s close and as powerful. Send The Reaper also has comparisons with Priest with its weight as the snare is used, as it should be, as an instrument in its own right and not just backing…that is the mark of a good drummer. Kingdom Of Dust is a short and sweeter rocker and is followed by a shorter and sweeter song that isn’t a cover…just 2:46 of superb riffs Going Down shows how to have an impact within three minutes…there are a lot of bands out there that could learn from this song.
Long Time Dead is yet another fast riff-driven song with some neat bass/drum interplay that lifts it from potential formulaic accusations. King Of Second Chances takes the heaviness of its predecessors and adds extra weight…but before it devolves into standard metal, the melodies lift it back into quality heavy rock; especially the vocals. Go Get It again starts all metal and then cleverly morphs into melodic heavy rock with multi-tracked vocals and another chorus that begs you to join in. Hey Man (Look At Me Now) is my favourite at the moment, simply because of the opening riff and the way the band play with it throughout and we get a short solo at last…and its from the bass…bliss!. It is heavy but with a lightness of touch that is simply irresistible. Closing with Devil In My Pocket is a frantically paced rocker that perfectly bookends this memorable album.
Modern rock for today without a doubt. Special mention to Ronnie for the perfectly timed single hit on the cymbal bell. It has echoes of a few great bands of the past but these guys have firmly stamped their own characters on it and have clearly shown many of the other ‘new’ bands of late how it should be done…weight with class.
The only complaint I can level is that with the twin guitars that are played so well throughout are not unleashed often enough for my guitarist’s biases. They are so effective and deserve their time in the spotlight.
Bluesdoodles rating: Stupendous – definitely an album for your rock collection
- Who Did It
- Set In
- Sin On Skin
- Be You
- Never Win
- Send The Reaper
- Kingdom Of Dust
- Going Down
- Long Time Dead
- King Of Second Chances
- Go Get It
- Hey Man (Look At Me Now)
- Devil In My Pocket
Shane Greenhall – Vocals
Ronnie Huxford – Drums
Ian ‘Shiner’ Thomas – Guitar
Lloyd Wood – Bass
David Winchurch – Guitar
Produced byColin Richardson and Andy Sneap
(The iTunes run on track on this occasion led me straight into the wonderful debut album by the wonderful Thunder and the wonderful lead off track, She’s So Fine.)