So as I charge head on into week eight of the UK lock down with one day rolling into another, imagine my delight when this debut album from Derby four piece outfit, THESE WICKED RIVERS comes crashing into my inbox for me to review, the perfect tonic for the lock down blues.
The band are John Hartwell, Lead Vocals. Rhythm Guitar, Arran Day, Lead Guitar, Sam Williams, Bass and Dan Southall on Drums.
These guys manage to fuse together classic rock riffs a plenty with a tip of the hat towards modern day outfits such as, Black Stone Cherry, Crobot and Clutch. Having formed way back in 2014, and with two well received EPs under their belts it’s time to let it all hang out with their release “EDEN” and I will cut to the chase and not dilly dally around in announcing that this is one of the best debut releases I have heard in many years, it really is a breath of fresh air with the song writing and musicianship showing amazing maturity.
Opening track “TEA LEAVES” is a strange guitar plucking hill-billy, deep southern sounding song, sang with a deep vocal with weird distortion, something I presume not to be taken too seriously and would make for the perfect intro tape when they get round to playing live shows again.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T44LxylsbkM&w=560&h=315]
On with the album proper and no prisoners taken with the guitar heavy “SHINE ON” a very catchy track that flows along with the vocals now being sung in a more normal tone with a short shuffle on the snare drum. Arran Day peels off a guitar solo that is short sharp and straight to the point then topped off with a outro that just shreds the life out of what remains of the song.
“FLOYD” is the first example of the groups fantastic song writing which depicts a story that you can sink your teeth into. More sledgehammer riffs that drift away to quieter moments that slowly builds to a colossal wall of sound. It’s so refreshing to hear songs that are constructed with thoughtful words rather than ….baby, baby, I love you..[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydsrOAzc0L8&w=560&h=315]
Next up is the shake your ass “EVERGREEN” that rips along at a great tempo with yet again lyrics that makes the listener unpick the words and just drift away. On this occasion it’s regarding a man that lives in a shack in the middle of nowhere in the Evergreen woods, all rounded off with a riff so catchy no wonder the group have released a video of the track online. Well worth checking out especially if reading this review is making you curious.
Clocking in at over six minutes “THIS TRAIN” to me feels like the centre piece of the album, with gentle guitar intro and John Hartwell singing the first couple of lines in a Eddie Vedder type style, the fact the vocal style is switched in such a way is a master stroke, this has everything, light and shade, heavy and soft, and builds and builds smouldering away with the rhythm section adding the clout to this monster song.
Personal favourite for me is “COUNT TO TEN” with its 100 mph pace that is dominated by the solid simple drumming of Dan Southall accompanied by Sam Williams bass lines. These lads must be joined at the hips to create that wall of sound, of course it goes without saying that before too long those guitars and effortless vocals make the track 100% complete.
“THE GARDEN” is a head down bruiser with touches of Soundgarden and of course those Sabbath riffs, once again showing another side to the group. This is such a solid rock song with a few twists and turns that does nothing but keep the listener on their toes.
Album closer “WORLD IN CHAINS” another track over 6 minutes duration, has a slow, doom laden opening with the listener knowing at any moment it’s just going to explode, and right on cue the power generated is staggering being repeated before the simple snare roll moves to one side and a guitar solo that could move a mountain takes centre stage. Special mention has to go to the vocal delivery, talk about pack a punch! Slowly the song and alas the album fades away.
If I was to say “EDEN” was a “what the fuck just happened moment ?” that still would not do it justice, very rarely does an album grab me by the balls as instantly as this one has. So many stand out moments and still so many moments to find because it is full to the brim of little riffs, drum fills and expressions yet to be discovered. If like me you are all struggling at times with the current global health situation then take my word for it….THESE WICKED RIVERS…. will take the blues away.
Edenis out on 22ndMay – Pre-orders: https://www.thesewickedrivers.com/category/eden-pre-order
Review by Steve Bruty for MPM