Review: The Bastard Sons – 'Smoke'

The Bastard Sons are a York based band that have been classed as any number of genres from Punk to Stoner, but the reason for that is that they just do not fit into any of these categories. If you ask me they are a really traditional sounding band with a seriously rough edge, kind of like getting your head cut off with a rusty saw.
The band have been touring extensively, but have now decided it’s time for the debut. You can feel the live sound throughout all the songs,  a sound that can only be captured after a multitude of gigs. Ever wondered why there are so many amazing 1st albums out there?
Another reason the band are so hard to categorise is they are so damned diverse. You just get into the swing and vibe of each song, and the sneaky buggers go and change the recipe for the next song, but that keeps you on your toes, and makes you listen to the whole album. There is no skipping over tracks, so in that respect it took me way back to that feeling as a kid of getting your vinyl, rushing home as fast as you can and shutting the bedroom door and not coming out till you had read the cover from front to back, and at least having a good 25% of the lyrics in your head.
The opener is ‘The Bastard’ and we even get a spelling test for a chorus. It works brilliantly and reminded me of Black Spiders at their very best. This must be fantastic live, as I am sure the fans would be screaming out the letters. It’s a real shit storm of classy riffs and thundering drums. ‘Release The Hounds’ is next up, and I have always wanted to shout that at the top of my voice but that’s just me. This carries on from ‘The Bastard’. It has the same groove, with a little Zakk stuffed in for good measure. A great start to the debut.
‘A Lie Is A Lie’ really interested me. The whole concept is of media bullshit. The majority of you out there will not be aware but we are manipulated at every turn. The TV, the papers, everything being thrown down your throat is absolute crap. The media are all tied to an agenda, and twist everything to have you in a constant state of fear or a complete stupor… creating zombie nations without the hint of a disease or virus. All you need is a screen, be it TV or phone. In fact only two weeks ago, whilst I was travelling home from a gig, I sat on a train where everyone was staring at their phones. The carriage was packed, and there was not a sound. Friends, couples and individuals all sat plugged into the “Matrix” (the film was not that far off, people) and I had enough. I stood up and shouted “Get off your phones, people. Talk to each other, FFS!” After what sounded like a mass gulp of air (or was it the connections shutting down), people started talking. I ended up speaking to around twenty people that night, and I hope at least one person had a light bulb moment.
‘Sobre La Muer…’ changes the tempo completely. Everything gets slowed down and we get to hear JJ’s vocals without the throat full of glass and barbed wire, and it works well. The song builds beautifully with the chanted “Have you seen the Light” resonating long after the track is over. I hope we all see the light before it is too late.
‘Bottom Of The Ladder’ keeps the message and the musical barrage going. ‘I’m Only A Call Away’ has a dirty, low-as-a-rattlesnake’s-belly riff, tied with machine gun drums. A corker of a song with JJ ripping his vocal chords right in front of you, full of pain, despair and heartfelt anger.
‘Us Against Them’ is vicious… as vicious as the fight is turning into. We are the majority being led by the minority who no longer care for you. It is short and not-so sweet, but the message is there….. revolution. ‘Cardboard Walls’ is as radio friendly as you are going to hear from these guys. It has a John Wayne swagger and an Arnie’s terminator coldness. ‘We Are A Dying Breed’ is screaming from my speakers. They are shaking, swaying, splitting at the seams… the power is so intense.
‘Scene(ic) Root(s)’ keeps the breathless tempo up and the heartbeats close to smashing your chest in. We then slow everything down again for ‘Stay True’, which sounds like it would be right at home in a western. It is completely left field from everything else on this album, yet it slots in perfectly. It is like the band knew we needed a break, that we were on the edge, teetering over the abyss and they just saved us. The album is wrapped up with “Exist-Distance” and what a way to go out. Rich is like a metronome on steroids and we get JJ’s vocal range from hoarse to angelic. A perfect reflection of the fight that the world is going through on a daily basis, good and evil, right and wrong, and I hope they are right when they say ”These pills we will not swallow”.
This is not only an amazing debut, but a powerful piece of metal, with a warning we should all heed. I hope these guys tour Scotland soon. I will buy the beers and you bring the conversational topics. I reckon we are in for a long night.
Review: Ritchie Birnie

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