Article By: David ‘Sunshine’ LaMay ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
Italy’s Gorilla Pulp is one of those bands that I managed to grasp onto from the near-beginning of their journey, as it was happening. No catching up, no delayed reaction. Now, having kept pace, here we go with the third chapter in their ongoing saga, with a few stops prior to our destination.
In late 2014, the band first appeared with the ‘Hell In A Can‘ EP, a quite refreshing little slab. Draping Motorhead propulsion over sustained, crushing riffs made for a listen with a unique flavor. Desert thrash? Maybe.
Resurfacing about a year and a half later, 2016’s ‘Peyote Queen‘ was initially befuddling. Except for singer and guitarist Maurice Flee‘s sometimes “loud” vocal approach, the Kilmister factor was sent packing, and the new bundle was almost pure stoner. This could have proven to be a regression of sorts, but Gorilla Pulp stepped up and delivered songwriting, identity, and passion the overused style hadn’t seen much of in far too long.
Now, here we are, late 2017, and outing number three, ‘Heavy Lips‘ is unleashed. Just as I’d hoped, the band keeps growing and redefining, all while never losing the pulse of what makes them so enjoyable to begin with. The multiple changes are snaky little devils when taken separately, but when heard, on the whole, they are significant.
First up, Maurice’s vocals. His delivery is smoother and in more control than ever. At times in the past, he seemed uncomfortable with handling subtlety, but no longer. Throughout the ‘Heavy Lips‘ record, instead of reaching for the commanding bellow, he carries notes to a natural conclusion. He’s reaching for places that the past record’s singing didn’t and the payoff is immense.
Let’s talk guitars now. Gorilla Pulp has always had strong playing on their side, but wow, did they take it to the next level here. Leads and intertwining harmonies are just falling out all over the damn place. If you appreciate where Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy, Corsair, Valkyrie, and Slough Feg aim(ed) their six-string acrobatics, then you will not be disappointed.
And now, the most important element, the overall sound. It might be understated at first, but yes, the band has now broken away from the stoner vibe. The eight tracks given over are pure, undefinable heavy rock. You’re gonna hear Frampton, Maiden, Kyuss, Buddy Guy, Sabbath, Moxy – and that is only the shortlist. Combine this with the paragraphs above, and you have 35 or so minutes of pure, heavy bliss armed with controlled diversity.
The Pulp’s latest is proof-positive that the third time is indeed the charm for those willing to put in the effort. Two strong records weren’t enough. Not for them, me, or you either. Swoop down on this bad boy and get a nice, fresh helping of the real deal.
Maurice Flee – Vocals, Guitars & Lap Steels, Theremin & Talkbox
Choris – Bass, Back Vocals
Angioletto Mr. Vernati – Guitars, Back Vocals
Giorgio “Bulldozer” Pioli – Drums & Percussions
Rebecca “Becky” Magri – Vocals in The Low Song