Review by Mark Montgomery for MPM
Saturday the 6th of May 2023. This date is going to go down in history. Why? Because it is the day I came back to music journalism (miss me?….). Our main dude here at MPM, Darren, brings me out of my self-imposed hiatus and drops this absolute gem on my desk: Hard Cold Fire from Northern Irelands finest 3 piece Grunge-Rock outfit – Therapy? (I always say the name with a rising intonation as the question mark suggests, much to the chagrin of my contemporaries as they always wonder what odd question I am asking).
So, on this momentous day, I have spun this Album at least 11 times. And let’s face it, there is absolutely nothing else going on in the world today that is worthy of my attention. The opening track gabs my attention and nails my thoughts to the wall. The lyrics holding some kind of significance: “In the head, they shoot the terrible master.”
I have a special place in my heart for Therapy? Whoever the promoter was in Bristol in 1994 when Therapy? had live dates booked to promote their breakthrough album, Troublegum, did an outstanding job of putting posters absolutely everywhere. I still have the image of the poster burnt into my retinas. I had to find out who this band are. This meant going to a record shop and buying the album. How I miss the days when music discovery was a very personal affair with a quest and an adventure involved.
This is a great album. Just because I haven’t been writing doesn’t mean I haven’t been listening to music. That’s pretty much all I do. I love metal, I really do, and I love Meshuggah as much as the next man. But you know what, sometimes I just want to sing along. Sometimes I just need a tune I can whistle. There are boxes that need ticking, and I found myself licking the end of my biro listening to this to make sure the check marks are noted.
The Album comes almost 5 years from the last offering. Has it really been 5 years? Yes. The band have continued to be prolific throughout the 30 plus year career, so the 5-year gap doesn’t seem that big a deal. A lot has happened in that gap, however, the band didn’t feel the need to use this album as an exclamation mark to the world’s events (although the track “Bewildered World” is a definite statement on the current environmental crisis).
As a musician, it was a difficult time, Andy Cairns (Founder/Guitar/Vocals) says “One thing we did decide when we were eventually able to rehearse, was that we didn’t want to make a lockdown record, because people have been through enough.
When we began to rehearse the songs, we realised there was an empathetic quality to them. We wanted to make something that was a bit more relatable, and less standoffish and claustrophobic – which we have a history of, and it stands in places – but we wanted to make something more approachable and open.”
The first single from the album is “Joy”, and to be honest, any of the 10 tracks could have been the lead single. At less than 3 minutes it is a masterclass of what 21st Century Grunge can achieve.
The production is spot on, Michael McKeegan’s Bass nestles perfectly in the mix, while Neil Cooper’s drums sound amazing, the snare tuning is perfect while the bass has a very satisfying wet sound. All this is of course is down to the production skills of renowned producer Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Feeder, Biffy Clyro).
Therapy? make 3-minute slices of extremely good music. What can be done in 3 minutes? Riffage? Yes. Music to sing along to? Yes. Meaningful lyrics? Yes. Music to dance to? Yes. Music to mosh to? Yes. Melody? Yes. In fact, I can make a list that could take 3 minutes to read about 3-minute bangers from Therapy?
Stand out tracks for me are Bewildered Heard, a well textured song with a call and response chorus that will be great to witness live. And Poundland of Hope and Glory, a song with a great hook you will be singing for days. Check out the video for this, you can see that the band are going to be one to witness live.
You know that thing when you are listening to an album, and it starts over automatically, and it takes a minute to realise track one is on again, and you go to swap it for something else? Well, this is the first album in a very long time I was happy to leave it on a loop. Literally all day. Therapy? are absolutely 100% at the top of their game. You need to buy this album, and please go and see them.
UK IN-STORE DATES
8th – Bristol, Rough Trade
9th – Nottingham, Rough Trade
10th – London, Banquet Records
11th – Oxford, Truck
HARD COLD FIRE’
1. They Shoot the Terrible Master
4. Bewildered Herd
5. Two Wounded Animals
6. To Disappear
8. Poundland of Hope and Glory
10. Days Kollaps
Andy Cairns – Vocals/Guitar
Michael McKeegan – Bass
Neil Cooper – Drums-
CONNECT WITH THERAPY?