Review by Gary Cordwell
Release date: 15 January 2016
So, 1968. Midway between Monterey and Woodstock. Dave Gilmour joins Pink Floyd. ‘The White Album’ is released. The Doors are at their dark, dangerous peak. The New Yardbirds play their first gig under their new name…Led Zeppelin. Steppenwolf release their debut album and have a hit with ‘Born To Be Wild’ – the line “heavy metal thunder” being the first use of the term in a rock song. London retro/stoner 4-piece 1968 have taken great care in their choice of name. This year carries weight. Depth.
So yes, there’s a definite hue of that year – of ‘death of the Sixties’, Manson/Altamont bad vibes on the horizon. But they also stopped off in the 70’s for some Sabbath inspiration before arriving in the Now, with it’s technology, musical know-how and high tech sheen. A fusing of retro and contemporary.
A blast of feedback launches us into ‘Marauder’, which in turn leads us into some scuzzo riffage and a booming rhythm section. This is seriously unwholesome stuff. The vocals screech sleazily, there is mucho voodoo in the death and bones of the lyrics and the slinky riff drifts off into an extended feedback breakdown, triggering a psychedelic lightshow on your mind’s eye. The feedback continues until the twin guitar, no messin’ riff of ‘Green Sails’ hoves into view. But don’t get settled because we are then tipped out of our stoner aural Lazyboys into a slow, dense, hugely fuzzy riff palace! It really is one of the nastiest, scuzziest riffs I’ve heard in many a moon – an abandoned, abused, bastard offspring of Lizzy and Sabbath.
And then we have the brilliant ‘H.M.S. Conan’. Bassist ‘The Bear’ gives us a thundering intro which leads us into an equally thundering riff – Soundgarden’s black sheep of a cousin – fried on bad drugs and with no desire to be loved! It finishes, but, erm…doesn’t. Guitar, then drums, then bass reappear with a malevolent vengeance. downtuned, dirty, head down. Riff after fuzzed up riff, restless and bruising. Until it mellows…only to take off again, with yet MORE riffage and a recklessly accelerating car crash of a finish.
That’s blown the New Year cobwebs well and truly out! And the gauntlet has been thrown down retro dudes – you’re gonna have to go some to catch this! This is bloodshot eyed, mirrored shades on in the dark cool. yes, they’ve taken their cues from that eponymous year that named them but they’ve also dragged it down an alley, got it fucked up and done some frankly downright wrong things to it! C’mon guys, don’t hang around, we need an album!
- Green Sails
- H.M.S. Conan