Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
The calendar year 2018 gets a dose of what heavy rock is all about, straight from 1968 and its “loud as fuck” ethos, so eloquently captured on the just-issued HeviSike Records release, ‘Ballads Of The Godless‘.
The quartet from Ghent, U.K. that consists of Jimi Ray (vocals), Sam Orr (guitar), Tom Richards (bass), and Dan Amati (drums) first shook our collective consciousness with their 2015 ‘1968‘ EP. That EP was followed by the band’s incredible ‘Fortuna Havana‘ in 2017. Now, here we are with the third round, ‘Ballads Of The Godless‘.
Like its predecessors, this new 1968 full-length is compelled and powered by the most magnificent of magnificence… THE Riff! Yes, THE Riff is an ever-present item in song after song, from the thick, syrupy starter “Devilswine” to the pummeling “Screaming Sun“, and later on, “The Hunted“.
Some of the most striking songs here are when THE Riff gets augmented by other, equally significant elements that combine with it to yield utterly remarkable results. The Alice In Chains-on-steroids “Temple Of The Acidwolf” is as good an example of this as any, too.
There, THE Riffs of 1968 meet with hazy vocals, slowly churning rhythms, and riveting drums, and wow, what cream rises to the top of this brewing concoction! That formula is tinkered with again (albeit sans vocals) on the poignant, acoustic-tinged instrumental interlude “S.J.D“. It serves as an intro piece to the enthralling “Chemtrail Blues” really, another heady discharge of sweltering heavy blues capable of displacing you into a fuzz-enveloped, head-nodding trance.
The detours venture into melodic terrains time and time again on this record, be it for brief passages or phenomenal full-on explorations, like that of “McQueen“. This cut is a head-first dive into psychedelia, but such that is temporarily forsaken to bust out some more aggressive stoner rock heaviness when the time is right.
What’s left is the densely punchy musicality of a Queens Of The Stone Age-flavored number, “The Hunted“, and the undeniable stand-out end piece, “Mother Of God“. The latter track is quick to relent on any aggressive tendencies, opting instead to go full-tilt boogie with an incessant deluge of sweat-breaking, psych-blues jamming.