This debut album from this Welsh quartet is literally rammed to the very last groove with big, ballsy, romper-stomper riffs, instantly memorable hooks, melodies and choruses – and enough attitude to refloat the Titanic.
Right from the opening right-between-the-eyes shotgun attack of ‘Adrenalise’ you know you’re in for a real treat: the pounding bass line of Bobby Goo and shock wave salvos of former Tigertailz drummer Matt Blakout (who actually only plays on half the album’s ten tracks) beat you into submission, while Lizzy Evans’ riffs grabs you by the balls and gives you a jolly good shaking, before Max Rhead’s bassy baritone vocal delivers a performance guaranteed to send a shiver down the spine of even the most cold-hearted rocker.
By the time the slightly more mellow ‘For Crying Out Loud’ you’re already singing along – a feat added by the band’s own dynamic use of vocal harmonies – while ‘Bodies’ is darker and more brooding but still retains a glorious hook, and the acoustic-led ‘Deadman Walking’ is simply brilliant, reminiscent of an earlier Welsh outfit, Kooga, as it builds from Evans’ gently picked melody and Rhead’s breathy, emotional vocal into a powerful slice of hard-edged melodic rock that oozes class from every note.
The title track is another rollicking powerhouse of a rocker, that would easily blow almost anything by Black Stone Cherry, for one, out of the water, while the blues-based ‘Slip Away’ is heart-breakingly beautiful, with Rhead’s raspy vocal giving it a powerful edge, before Evans and the rest of the band really let rip in the second half. ‘Faith In Me’ is another balls-out but melodic rocker, very much in the Alter Bridge mode, but tonnes heavier, and again characterized by soaring vocal harmonies and some stunning guitar play. ‘Fire In The Hole’ is by turns bluesy and brooding and by others fiery and fierce, while ‘Drop The Bomb’ is a hard-rocking son-of-a-bitch of an anthem, built on a positively nuclear riff (although former drummer Ginger Rogers’ snappy snare is a touch too high in the mix) and closer ‘Shadows Fall’ is an assured take on early Marsden/Moody-era Whitesnake mixed with mellower Y&T (other comparisons which keep springing to mind all the way through).
A stunning album, and a heavy contender for, certainly the best British, album of the year… I’ve no choice but to award it full marks (and, yes, it’s that fucking good): 10/10.
‘Shoot The Crow’ is self-released and available from the band’s website: http://www.hangfire-rocks.co.uk/