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'Shit City'
(Napalm Records)
Released 1st September 2014

Roger Berzerk Fauske

Roger Berzerk Fauske

lonely kamel

With a name like Lonely Kamel, you may be forgiven for thinking they come from a desert laden country. The reality is they hail from somewhere just a touch cooler - Oslo in Norway.

This is actually their fourth album and is a combination of a multitude of influences covering just about everything from punk to blues.

Comprising Thomas Brenna on vocals and guitar, Lukas Paulsen on guitar and backing vocals, Stian Helle on bass and Espen Nesset on drums, Lonely Kamel do rock as rock was meant to be done, and that includes the humour: "We wanted this record as simple and cheap as possible to record," joked frontman and guitarist Thomas Brenna recently.

So the time has come to see exactly what the dromedaries have come up with.

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Musical matters kick off with the title track 'Shit City' and kick off it does with a vengeance. Guitar in overdrive mode, pounding rhythm, screaming lead with the bass piledriving the track along, drums plundering the atmosphere. Add to all that some loud, aggressive, menacing and straight to the point vocals and you have an opener to really make you want more.

And more arrives in the shape of 'White Lines'. This one thunders in with a cool riff and follows through in a very good way. Lead guitar screaming away again, and very cleverly done in as much as it forces its way in and out with no set boundaries for its appearances.

Rhythm section again pulling the whole thing along and on the edge vocals, a touch Ozzy like in tone, gives it a raw edge, the kind of sound that comes from playing live in a studio and fortunately avoiding the all too familiar over production.

Any thoughts of the band being one dimensional are dispelled very quickly as 'Is It Over' hits. This one is pure blues based with some Plant-esque chanting coming in after some deliciously laid back guitar. Matters heavy up but never going away from the blues roots and the mid section gives vent to a nice bit of throaty bass before some neatly interwoven guitar, echoing parts of Deep Purple's 'Strange Kind Of Woman'. A great track and showing the versatility of the band very well.

'I Feel Sick' takes things back up a notch or twelve and the six string device and drums really stand out on this one, with some off beat patterns catching the ear. Espen Nesset's drumming really does fill in more space than you would have thought possible, but it never sounds overdone, and the guitars in perfect harmony, the lead work towards the end in particular standing out. But there is so much to this song, even down to the groove which has you in its clutches almost immediately.

lonely kamel

'Seal The Perimeter' starts off with some menacing, doom laden riffing perfectly accompanied by the bass lines, again showing the band's superb use of space. The tone of the bass is particularly well set and it merges into the rhythm perfectly, almost a third guitar. Vocals again coming right at your throat leaving you in no doubt about the band's intentions. The clever part is that even with all this going on, the blues is still very much in evidence on this one and there is more than enough room for it to glide around, dictating the pace of the track.

'Freezing' is next in line and this starts almost immediately with the vocals, more polished and less raw initially than on the previous tracks. Guitars again leading the way over the top of drumming with military precision, not to mention feel. The harmonies between the guitar and vocals are well aligned and the galloping rhythm guitar interspersed with the drums gives it a sense of urgency, before we are hit by the now customary lead licks. The vocals in the second half of the song really let rip and I challenge anyone not to at least have severe foot thumping and head shaking moments.

'BFD' gives vent to more of that body jiggling almost immediately and those like me that love their classic rock will love this. Intro building with great aplomb, shifting all the time and the classic groove infused guitars ever present in the track are music to the ears, mine at any rate.

After the first batch of vocals, the guitars again take over, seriously challenging the feet to stay grounded as it speeds up, tempo on a collision course with infinity itself, just backing off as the track ends. Wonderful stuff. Oh... in case you wondered 'BFD' is short for big fat dollie.

'Nightjar' has another great feel to it, going all pentatonic in the intro, heavying up and speeding along before the vocals again go to town. Again as with so many from this band, the pounding rhythm behind the track gives it life force freeing the guitars to inject their dose of breathlessness into you, the lucky listener. And just when you thought it was over, a few extra bars are thrown in... short but very clever with a dose of craftiness thrown in.

So to the album finale 'Falling Down' which starts off in classic mode again, almost veering into southern rock foot stomping territory. It sounds somewhat of a contradiction but its simplicity is far from easy to pull off and take it from me, you have to be a damn site more than an average musician to do it justice and one thing these guys ain't is average. The tonal contrast between the two guitars adds a lot of depth and colour to the song, as do the well-spaced backing vocals.

In a word…brilliant. Somehow the guys from Oslo have managed to take tried and trusted formats, and breathe more life into them than there is in your average oxygen tank. They fit so well as a band and whilst they are all very talented musicians, the sum of the whole is winning the race by a country mile.

I have said it before but Norway has more than its fair share of great bands and you can definitely add this lot to the upper echelons of that list. They are on tour here at the end of September so I strongly suggest you get out and see them.

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