Here to Stay
It would be easy, but lazy, to see this as more of the same, though of course it is, but it’s also more than this, and one of the number of developments from the band’s first album is the focus on Phil Campbell’s gritty vocal, not that this wasn’t a feature before.
Fourth track Modern Massacre exemplifies what I mean, especially as the opening 40 seconds are just vocal over bass drum thumps, the echo of Jim 'Dandy' Mangrum one of many reference points that can be made about the whole band and its sound, and often is, not least by me here when reviewing them live, but that vocal is also quite distinctive and showcased gloriously on this song. Interestingly, next Battle Lines begins by sustaining the focus, though the voice purposefully distanced by effects in the mix, and the song then shifts into its regular riff-driven rock, some potent bass being played too.
Opener and title track Three Bulleits [that’s bourbon, not ammunition] is a rousing stomper with plenty of slide guitar in evidence, not quite anthemic in the hey hey hey hey-a-hey hey hey come-on chorus but still singalong, eventually rising to guitar dueting. Second Get Yourself Free is a reasonably complex song structure in its variety, and there is the clear sound of Guess Who Burton Cummings in the vocal here – as ever, reference as positive reflection. Third A Pleasant Peace I Feel is the first ballad/slow song, sweet harmonies tight to Campbell’s mellower slow-song vocal, until the volume and pace rises, though the harmonising continues and the fuzzed guitar warms it all.
A nice piece of vocal yin yang is in sixth White Bear, Campbell starting as a softie and then erupting into Plant-esque pomp – gloriously on both – with more guitar slide into feedback for overall noise. After more rock-arousal of the highest order, the album closes on another slow number, I Hope I’m Not Losing My Mind, this having the most choric element of all in the band’s repeated rendition of the title line.
This is an excellent second coming confirming the band is here to stay.
And an additional note, having listened quite a bit more, this is an outstanding follow-up to their first, thoroughly recommended, and can be purchased here.