Album review from Mitch “ZoSo” Duterck of Quartz Fm in Belgium


THE SWAMP BORN ASSASSINS: ‘Smell the Mud'(Carnivora Records) 2017 When my friend Catherine J.Campbell from Aberdeen asked  me whether she could send me some cds of young Scottish bands for a possible radio broadcast in Belgium. Unknown to me, I was going to receive a true shock listening to one of them. A look at the case of the CD and, from the start, the booklet attracted my glance. A black bottom, a central medallion which the name of the group arises in white, certain letters snake shaped. In the centre of the medallion, a top hat covered skull around which a snake is rolled up. I adore! This CD has already the look and feel of the bayous of Louisiana, infested marshes of deadly creatures, a place where you’d better not lose yourself. Now let’s have a careful listen to the music and we’ll see whether the music is worth this splendid design… 1.”Out in the Rain” : a distant sound of chime which tinkles under the effect of the wind, footsteps on the gravel and the rain which threatens, and suddenly… Bang! A very heavy riff from the guitar / harmonica which enters the dance. Will we play it together, are you ready? Connect your Les Paul (what else?) to your Marshall 100 watts full tube amp, select the overdrive 2 channel then put the master volume on 5 and tell the neighbours it’s to leave for some shopping. Play power chords, the beats make: B (7 times) and then, A, B, A, B. It’s a really deadly obsessive gimmick. For the character depicted in the song, it is a day which starts badly, the kind of thing where all goes wrong. At the end of each verse, the sentence falls on the poor fellow’s shoulders, as the blade of the guillotine. A solo of harmonica which curiously points out Robert Plant’s play. 2.”Never Ever Never” : the main riff recalls immediately good memories to the fans of Duane Eddy – Emerson, Lake & Palmer – or Aerosmith with the Peter Gunn’s theme .Here with the tempo faster is played along by Mister Chris Glen (ex. Alex Harvey Band, Michael Schenker Group) who makes a ‘Deluxe’ guest appearance on the album. At some places, just for a few seconds, I feel influences of Slade’s ‘Coz love you’. The song is a motivating thing for you to struggle and to react when nothing goes right. 3.”Walk Tall”: a great ‘à la Stooges acid guitar attack’. Not easy to be a sexy girl in a world of men, it is really important to be self confident, and assume who you are. Very heavy stuff and still the guitars cutting’ deep into the listeners flesh with a kind of “question/answer” battle with the harmonica. This song is for all those who are different from other people and pushes them to show up their differences and triumph over adversity. 4.”Dead Man Walking”: the first three tracts of the album had already given me shivers and shakes but with this one is clearly the killing machine. How to define this piece? I would say that each time “No Fun” from the Stooges  meets “When the Levee Breaks” from Led Zeppelin, there will be a “Dead Man Walking”. A very powerful and heavy riff, a fast tempo, a bass line and a guitar playing the same rhythm pattern like a loop. An A5 chord followed of three notes G, A b an A. You will tell me that must be boring, well, not at all because there’s something brilliant in this notes progression. There is an alternation, a stroke of genius that adds a B flat at the end of the main riff. This is what prevented it from being too linear, I say cheers! The harmonica solo is once again played in the spirit of Led Zeppelin. The way of hammering the lyrics reminds me a certain Dave Brock of Hawkwind in places. I love this piece. 5.”Land of the Six Gun”: let’s dive here into the painful era of the American wildwest, that of which they are undoubtedly very proud whereas it is a true time of infamy and nonstop treasons towards the wonderful Native American nation. An introduction made of one single scream of the bald eagle, followed by the sound of the drums and the ritual songs of Sioux Lakotas, the tempo is very heavy, kinda Black Sabbath. It is the history of a genocide perpetrated by the white man who invades “Paha Sapa ”, the Black Hills, the sacred and supposed untouchable Sioux ground, it is practically the end of a nation, and the disappearance of a lifestyle, that of the wandering tribes, the riding people, the culture of the plains. A splendid text which, through the American history, is a cry because this kind of situation still exists today, the victims are not called Lakotas no more , they are from Tibet, Armenia, or Rwanda. A very beautiful thinking on things of which some want to minimize the importance of, or worse still, to deny the existence. 6.”Crawl”: a song that emerges suddenly at the speed of an raging bull, an obsessive riff which is repeated ad infinitum. There is this acid and poisonous sound which was the trademark found at the time blessed of the MC5 and the Stooges, an urgent, dangerous side. The history of a guy so in love of his chick that he forgets his dignity and starts to crawl at her feet with the risk of becoming nobody very soon. An invitation to remain lucid and worthy that whatever the circumstances are. 7.”Smell the Mud”: the title of the album sustained by a large basic riff. It is indeed the confirmation, this album feels mud, sweat, the Black market bourbon and everyday life stories, things that can happen to everyone of us. A vision of terror of somebody who’s confronted with his fears and its anguishes and who is folded up, is trapped from the inside, lost in loneliness and…booze. A weapon’s on the table… suicide? 8.”The Gator Hole”: pure Rock’ Roll. Be very careful and do not venture close to the den of this animal. A piece which has accents of the Southern band such as the Black Crowes or Molly Hatchet of Danny Joe Brown’s era. To slow down this burning fire, one passes on a great classical blues tempo! It is a piece which already takes part of the great modern electric blues tunes, a companion to “The Jack” from AC-DC and “Bad Butcher and Fast Eddie” on the first album of Rose Tattoo. 9.”Clara Belle Lee”: the long piece which closes the album. A trip in horror films that leads us in a cemetery in the (Bad?) Company of Clara Belle Lee, under the black moon. This debut album of TSBA, the quintet of Glasgow is definitely part of the very great musical revelations of the last ten years, as well as bands such as the Rival Sons, Blackberry Smoke and The Temperance Movement. That smells powder, bad bourbon, cold tobacco and urgency. Isn’t of Shakespeare kinda writing and even less of the Mozart musical style, but who the f*** cares? This album is a piece of everyday life, a slice of a …custard pie, it shows life with its realities and disillusions. This album shows the urgency of living from five musicians who very understood blues and rock’n’roll. An absolute masterpiece. Then, what? Are you still there? Move your buttocks and run to the record shop next door to buy it before it’s too late. You’ve been warned Mitch “ZoSo” Duterck2017.04.28

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