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STRAIGHT RAZOR ANGELS Straight Razor Angels GBVKR08 (2010)

Straight Razor Angels

Straight Razor Angels take you back to the dawn of rock & roll, or at least back to the era of garage bands full of high octane energy and big attitude, where a good snarl can cover the tricky bits that in effect make the difference between a garage band and something with more substance.

And yet almost in spite of the references to Punk, the Angels have more to their cannon than mere phlegm spitting attitude. For this self titled debut album is born in the land of the twang, a place where voracious energy and coruscating riffs meet big crashing chords and gnawing vocals.

And so it is with the opening uncompromisingly titled 'On The Pull' that the band announce their intent. They deliver clever rhymes, whispered vocals and unravel measured dynamics, neatly wrapped up on the back of the unrelenting crashing drums of Deezel Keeble and the big echoey notes of Vegas on guitar.

The album immediately slips up a gear on the hard driving, Yorkshire inflected, primal American rock of 'Dirty Hotel' which is the perfect meeting of powerful chords, and machine gun riffery.

The band's strength is that they match the unrelenting energy of contemporaries like Nick Curran with more light and shade and a firmer grasp of dynamics. Indeed there's almost a Fab T Birds influence to their music as they push their high energy, fractured take on the blues, in the direction of rock & roll. Certainly they explore a wide enough vocal range over lashings of guitar and a pile driving rhythm section to give themselves plenty of options over 10 tracks that leap out of the traps.

Look no further than the way the emphasis shifts to the whammy bar on the stomping 'Russian' which is all shrill vocals and bone crunching riffs. There's also a subtle change in vocals on the solid back beat of 'Bad Apple'. And while they have a good thrash on 'Black Clouds' they wrap things up nicely with a stop-time outro.

This is an album full heavily punctuated riffs and tension building cul de sac's that guitarist Vegas cleverly navigates or alternatively bursts through with some choppy licks. And while the overall production values that may be rooted in Garage Rock meets Punk, Straight Razor Angels never lose sight of the bigger picture, which is their own unique take on a retro genre.

It all makes for an interesting and essential blast of primal rock & roll that on 'Definitely Hate Me' momentarily references Johnny Cash, before an even more unlikely meeting of a fired up Rory Gallagher and Wilko Johnson on the stripped down rocking of 'Bad Times'. It's another bone crunching rocker full of coarse vocals, clever lyrics in glorious mix of Thrash meets R&B and Rock & Roll; 'Under grey skies, the old town guys, we choked on diesel and rust'. 'Fear and blood broken glass, designer dress without class'. Great stuff.

The rest of the album rolls on with another volley of spiky guitar and closes with some potent Bv's, suggesting that album is the scorching sum of some well thought out parts brought to life as only a garage band can. With their blustery intent and uncompromising approach Straight Razor Angels make sure Rock & Roll is in safe hands.


Review by Pete Feenstra


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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