If anyone was ever going to update and revolutionise Americana sludge rock for the WhatsApp generation, they were always far more likely to come from Southampton than from any authentic spit’n’sawdust Appalachian shanty town.
Band Of Skulls: Himalayan
Southampton trio scale new heights on their third album.
Sure enough, Band Of Skulls’ third album, encouraged by Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Arcade Fire producer Nick Launay, advances their sledgehammer-to-the-groin desert-blues rock with a sleek coat of synthesised guitar sizzle. The result is an ultra-modern breed of ultra- heavy glam, with Hoochie Coochie coming on like a Terminator T.Rex and Asleep At The Wheel resembling Queens Of The Stone Age in glittery Wizzard capes.
Cheesy on paper, stately on record, and adorned with their usual images of bleak country classicism – lonely rivers flow, hard hearts beat, Heaven and Hell collide, and did we mention there’s a track called Hoochie Coochie? – Himalayan feels like a powerful roots rejuvenation.
It’s no one-trickster either – Cold Sweat and Get Yourself Together billow into plush torch epics around the sweet/sour harmonies of Emma Richardson and Russell Marsden, while I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead And One Dying swerves between Morricone surf noir and all-out Western massacre. Can we call it ‘mountainous’ now?