Beast Reality is the rollickingly good debut full-length release from hard-rocking trio City Of Thieves. Some three years in its realisation, since a buzz-creating live debut at Camden Rocks ’15 and a well-received EP Incinerator” this 12 track offering is chock-full of meaty riffs, deliciously rough vocals and sledge-hammer beats.
Produced, jointly by Toby Jepson (Little Angels / Wayward Sons) and the band themselves Beast Reality epitomises how hard-rock is evolving in a healthy, tangible fashion under the all-encompassing ‘umbrella’ of the New Wave of Classic Rock genre. It’s something that City of Thieves’ record label Frontiers have tapped into with their ‘New Breed’ branding which includes, amongst others, Inglorious, Bigfoot and Wayward Sons; stablemates which these three unassuming lads neatly nestle alongside with their interpretation of hard rock; another beautiful example of rock n’ roll Darwinism.
Opening track “Reality Bites”, COT’s latest single, launches proceedings in a buzz saw fashion with the entire band roaring as one; vocalist/bassist Jamie Lailey cynically observes “You can have any flavour you like, but it won’t change the taste”; reality has, indeed, bitten and holds my attention firmly in its vice-like grip.
“Fuel and Alcohol”follows and in an instant, it’s Saturday night! Infectious six-string action lined up with catchy choruses that leave the words ringing about long after the track has finished leave one under no illusions of the influences that are industrially employed melding some of the best of the 70’s and 80’s to create a glorious 21st-century alloy of rock.
“Buzzed Up City” is a straight-up honest rocker mined right out of the mother-lode that gave us AC/DC, Airborne and Black Aces; it wears its parentage with brash pride but with a knowing smirk that gives a freshness to the subject matter. The aptly named “Lay Me To Waste” after building up nicely applies the “does what it says on the tin” mantra with a defined precision.
The ball-game is opened up with “Control”; if you wondered what the offspring of Thin Lizzy and Mötley Crüe then wonder no more. The tempo slows a little with “Incinerator” but the foot-stomping rock doesn’t; this is rock n’ roll induced destruction on a King Kong scale. “Animal” gatecrashes the party in a defiant mood rammed to the gunwales with wild-beast on the hunt fury. This under the influence interloper is, however, most welcome as it comes bearing the musical equivalent of a brewery delivery.
“Right To Silence” begins with a staccato burst interspersed with short bursts of, in the words of Terry Pratchett, “an absence of noise” before heading off down the rock n’ roll highway with a self-assured swagger that would have Aerosmith nodding in respect. The party continues, apace, with soon-to-be considered an anthem “Born To Be Great”; with the lyrics capturing, perfectly, in a snap-shot what this album means to them.
“Damage” returns the musical carousing to a point of convergence where antipodean and stateside influences collide, with tectonic force. in a glorious fashion. “Give It Away” streaks out of the traps like a supersonic offering Quo could only have dreamt of, even in their prime; this is octane fuelled boogie rock for sure! “Something Of Nothing” closes the album with aplomb; definitely a case of leaving the very best until last. Showcasing the gentler side of City of Thieves this track is sure to be one of the band’s signature tunes.
For the second, consecutive, Friday I find myself writing this is destined to be one of my albums of the year.
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