Starts loud, stays loud. Hallelujah. From the first seconds of this debut album proper from Dublin-based trio No Spill Blood onwards, there’s no diversion from the memo sent down from rock’s mission control, electrifying senses from somewhere in the thunderclouds. Hit hard, riff righteously, and get all weird and sci-fi on the keys now and again: the system works. Hell, it does much more than merely work – it makes a man feel inches taller, one’s pace quicker, their blood hotter.
Heavy Electricity’s opening shots of ‘White Out’ and ‘Back To The Earth’ set a tremendous, turbulent precedent for the rest of this nine-cut collection to follow in the crust-cracking bootprints of. That it does is indicative of experience beyond “new band” status – while this is a first long player for No Spill Blood, members have done their share of gear-lugging and road-slogging in acts like Adebisi Shank and the (excellently named) Hands Up Who Wants To Die? They know how to thread consistency through an album, and do so expertly here.
So while the early impression of Torche forming a supergroup with Teeth Of The Sea at a hundred leagues deep in the Atlantic as Jimmy Cameron scouts locations for an Abyss sequel is Pretty Fucking Impressive, what’s even better is that the album doesn’t let your cynical, sourpuss self surface for so much as a microsecond. There’s no opportunity for pondering what might have been, no lamenting a strong start giving way to a bloated middle and a wuss-out climax, as it just keeps coming, with the impact of a megaton bomb inside your bathroom cabinet.
Okay, so there’s possibly some overreaching enthusiasm coming through here. It might be that Heavy Electricity isn’t the iPod-hogging beast it is today come the summertime. But then, it’s a record that gives off such an intense heat that its presence beneath a low, cold sun is essential for chasing away the chill of a heels-dragging winter. It might feel like a sticky mess in July, when all anyone wants is those shit, tasteless “French-style” beers you get handed around at barbeques and whatever pop’s been branded This Year’s Model by a press guaranteed to turn at least a handful of cheese hawkers into honorary members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, for services to Just Being Different Enough. But right now is when I’m writing these words, so: consider them sincere, but subject to seasonal variation.
Right now, when I hear ‘Now II’ I’m lifted off my feet and given, for the solid duration of six minutes and 49 seconds, superpowers. X-ray eyes. Laser fingers. Hulk strength. Master Builder skills that knock Morgan Freeman into next week. Great in bed: as in, that regular four hours of sleep becomes the equivalent of eight, so I’m not the wreck of a man I appear most working days. Those “Colin achieved this entirely routine thing today, and now he feels epic” adverts with that Patrick Stewart (aping?) voiceover are a right crock, I know, but: this track and more does make me feel like I’ve just beaten down an army of angry internet nerds with nothing but balloon animals –sea lions, mainly– and a rolled-up copy of Amiga Power from 1994. Totally epic.
And absolutely unbeatable: for ‘Now II’ and what’s come before it; and then throughout ‘Thinner’, which is a bit like an entire Botch album crushed into one song and remixed by a retro-futurist electro-head watching the opening city sweep of Blade Runner on an endless loop at an IMAX on the surface of Mercury. And then throughout ‘Harsh Route’, which is the swaggering machismo of Queens Of The Stone Age dipped in razor-edged microchips with the black-hole weight of the Melvins and swung into the gurning mugs of lagered-up Kasabian fanboys. And then throughout the unstoppable charge of ‘Sweet Beans’, a track packing bass grooves so battery-lick buzzing that it turns your nipples inside out and uses them as birdfeeders for Laserbeak’s robotic brood, shitting burned-out capacitors all over your naked navel. You get the idea. Heavy Electricity is like someone made my favourite spaceships-and-stuff shooter of the 16bit video game era into a metal album – probably Xenon 2 Megablast, since you asked, but only because I abused the cheats and was shite at the superior R-Type II.
I really like this record. And if any of the above made the slightest shred of sense to you, you will too. Until your soggy pants are crawling up your arsecrack and you’d murder a child(’s favourite plushie) for a Calippo, at least. But come on: this is Britain, where summer lasts for two weeks, giving you 50 to cherish the company of one of the most brilliant rock records to blast forth from the British Isles in bloody ages.