Bullets and Octane – In the Mouth of the Young – 4/5
Ok, so since today has been spent doing various things, preparing for a short special for my 250th (gasp) review, as well as making a start on a small “Metal Mythology” side-project (details here), my review this time isn’t a new discovery. In fact, this is a closeted one, hidden from the ‘it’s not brutal enough’ brethren, even slated amongst the hard rock fans, this is me making my stand for a little known band from California that aren’t your run of the mill money grabbing pile of crap. Retaining a comical edge to the lyrics (“She’s too naïve for suicide but god I wish that bitch would die. Shotgun shells? Yeah that’s alright, the whisky says to take her fucking life” – Caving In), a raw and punky edge emerges that would feel just at home amongst the old Aussie pub rock scene (AC/DC, Buffalo, Living End) as it would in the 80s punk scene; furious guitars and passionate roars creating a free-for-all, improvised frenzied atmosphere to the proceedings.
Recommended by my Nickleback-loving friend, seen on tour supporting A7X and Stone Sour; as bad as things look at this point, it is their sense of realism that puts them ahead of the rest. They never feel as though they have an ego, with their head in the clouds or with any ulterior motive for making their music. Instead it feels more like a modern ‘classic rock’ release, taking modern conventions and production values and infusing it was that old-school down to earth desire to do no more than rock out; back when guitarists still played riffs rather than merely chord sequences and was more than happy to perform impromptu solos (even if his band mates aren’t), and when the punk attitude of the vocalist resulted in more fist pumping and less ‘L’Oreal’ style hair flicking. In fact, it can almost be compared to thrash in the – at times formulaic – structure that never detracts from the point they are making, and the result speaks for itself.
The bass and rhythm guitars occasionally get drowned out, but get their vital moments in the tracks, sustaining the base rhythm with the help of the frantic drumming, which has been produced to perfection, to demonstrate his ability to use all the weapons at his disposal to create his unrelenting array of rock beats; all this comes in handy when your lead guitarist may well have a severe attention problem. Particularly in the earlier tracks, he will start playing the riff with the best of intentions, only to become side tracked and begin playing what feels theatrical and improvised. And he’s no slack either; like an apprentice Schenker or Blackmore he plays with a visceral speed that feels unique compared to the vast quantities of neo-classical wankery artists that have come about since ‘Malmsteem.’
The vocals do nothing to detract from all this, supplying a raw tone filled with attitude to complete a line-up with the potential to match the classics. But most modern rock fans seem quite fickle, latching on the newest big thing and forgetting the last in a few short years. In this humble reviewers opinion it’s quite pathetic, but even if they never do top it with subsequent works, or become a big name, this album has made enough of an impact to stay comfortably nestled in my collection for a number of years to come. Now if you excuse me, I have the strange compulsion to finish my beer and play air guitar.
Highlights: Going Blind, My Disease, I Ain’t Your Saviour, All Hail Halo