Three years after the release of their hugely successful, self titled debut release, South West heavy rock trio Grifter return with their aptly named follow-up 'Return Of The Bearded Brethren'.
The main difference between this release is that the former spanned the band's history from their inception to that point in time, tracking their progress as they developed and discovered their rock niche.
This release sees the band with their style firmly developed and offering a collection of ten quality compositions that have the Grifter trademark sound, catchy, ballsy rhythms that have their roots in stoner rock but by now going way beyond that along with a strong bluesy groove that permeates the album, which is completed by a great production job from Rich Robinson.
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Lyrical inspiration comes from a broad range of subjects like Guinness, 70s sex symbols, drinking regrets, as well as religious folly and resembling a series of tales put to music in many respects, often with a message or a warning to listeners but there is also woven through the songs a strong humorous edge.
The ten tracks encompass forty three minutes, an engaging listen end to end and are songs you are going to want to sing along with, opening with 'Black Gold', the obligatory ode to Guinness, a favourite fuel of the band and no Grifter album would be complete without addressing this subject.
The humour begins with 'She Mountain', a cheeky little number with nice bass lines and a superbly sleazy groove, followed by the slower tempo 'Paranoiac Blues', a hugely atmospheric track with some great slide guitar work.
Next, with its great midway segment, 'Princess Leia', is a track about the reminiscence of one's youth, something we all do from time to time. Of all the tracks my favourite of the release is 'Bow Down To The Monkey'; it makes a valid point and I totally share the sentiments of this track which addresses a global obsession for religious stupidity. It also has a fabulous groove and good drums.
Another that really caught my attention was 'Braggards Boast' a mid-tempo, track also with good drum work and catchy, chugging rhythms. 'It's Not Me It's You' has catchy groove and a midway sleazy guitar segment and 'Fire Water' has the kind of hooks to it that just won't leave your mind alone; another memorable track.
Is title track, 'Return Of The Bearded Bretheren', an autobiographical number? It could be.
The album ends with an excellent cover of Black Sabbath's 'Fairies Wear Boots', easily as good as the original, if not better, a comment I could get myself lynched for by hardcore Sabbath fans.
There is also a humorous edge to the artwork, which gives you an idea what the band are like as individuals and what to expect from this release, a sleazy, meaty, bluesy, chunk of groove rich rocking goodness that will leave you smiling.