Descending the stairs into the Leeds Wardrobe immediately prior to the appearance of Nashville rockers All Them Witches, I’m greeted by the unmistakeably thunderous opening bars of Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’, together with its inevitable endorsement by several heads nodding in time to Iommi’s timeless riffage; one immediately realising an assault of good old fashioned heavy rock is just what the doctor ordered this evening.
Practically salivating having watched, riveted to several online clips of Charles Parks and his cohorts tearing it up in numerous venues, the twin charge of ‘Howdee Hoodee Slank’ followed by ‘When God Comes Back’ open this evening’s proceedings with a bang, pounding the audience into submission with riffing so meaty, vegetarians should be fleeing the venue en masse. For a quartet their sound is deceptively rich and beautifully balanced with plenty of Alan Van Cleave’s Rhodes tinged electric piano, Parks’ super fuzzed stock-car Rickenbacker bass and Robbie Staebler’s mini drum kit mayhem, richly enveloping Ben McLeod’s snazzy fret board licks.
The eerily sinister ‘3-5-7’ slows things down a little, the three-parts full wardrobe now at one with their charges, nodding in sage approval at the bands expertly crafted psychedelic heaviness as the loud/quiet dynamic of ‘The Death of Coyote Woman’ starts to crank things up once more, aided in no small way by McLeod’s delicious slide guitar.
A few of the latter songs are stretched out including, ‘Internet’, a track about the wonders of cyberspace, and in particular ‘Blood and Sand’, seguing onto the mellower groove of new album opener ‘Bulls’, all super expansive slices of dense sound, surprisingly easy on the ear yet always ready to bite you on the arse as the souped-up final third of ‘Bulls’ is an assault to your senses, jeopardising the very teeth in your head.
That unpredictability still holds the key to producing interesting music that challenges as well as providing the listener with pleasure. Their back catalogue is poised; ready to muller your ears.
Words - Mike Price