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'If The Devil Cast His Net'
(PHR Records)
Release Date: Friday 29th April 2016

Liz Medhurst

liz medhurst

pearl handled revolver

Ah, Pearl Handled Revolver's third album is here at last – and it was worth the wait.

Following on from 2012's 'Colossus' and 2013's 'This Mountain Waits', 'If The Devil Cast His Net' gives us eight tracks from a band completely at home in their niche.

The sound has evolved, the band now a four piece since bass player Oli Carter left the line-up. There's also a string section for the first time, however the album is imbued with their signature psychedelic heaviness that I can't get enough of.

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This is an album that on first contact bypasses the brain and goes straight to the hips - lovely. It's not all paisley-swirled technicolour dancing though, there's way more to it than that. There are intricate lyrics to explore, and that heavy driven sound, nice and dirty just the way we like it, has layer upon layer of riff and melody, yet remains tight and mercifully short on meandering.

The first thing to strike is how Pearl Handled Revolver are masters of groove. With the organ and keyboards centre stage, Simon Rinaldo also covers bass duties through the keyboards, allowing for a much more dynamic range. This provides the central point for those sweet dirty grooves, swimming in Hammonds, Mellotrons and vintage loveliness.

Having the keys as main instrument takes nothing away from the guitars and allows them to shine, Andy Paris delivering astonishing blistering motifs, playing call and response with the keys on many occasions in a conversation which is as wild as it is harmonious.

And what of the drums? Chris Thatcher keeps the beat going solidly but with no shortage of complexity, eliciting occasional grins and "what the hell was that?!" comments – in a good way.

pearl handled revolver

Vocalist Lee Vernon doesn't hold back on the grit and in your face edge, but there are moments of contrast too; 'Walk These Streets' having a rich tenderness and the coda of the title track delivering delicious tones. Catch Lee out of the corner of your eye at just the right angle and you'd swear that you are looking at Alan Hull on stage, and he has proved that he also shares the talent for a profound lyrical turn.

There's an air of danger at times, especially as things nearly tip over the edge in 'Absinthe In Adelaide' – I had no idea that Tavistock Street in Bedford was such a subversive place. But as wild and abandoned as things get, the pulse of this album is always anchored solidly, quite breath-taking when you realise that these songs were tracked live.

It's really good to see the whole package has also kept up the high visual standards of the previous two, with the dramatic artwork by Chris Thatcher, and the CD itself is designed to look like a vinyl record with great attention to detail. It also contains an excerpt from The Truth Contest about the devil as the cosmic criminal, giving another fascinating aspect to the archetype.

'If The Devil Cast His Net' is an intense and pleasurable experience. Like all the best psychedelia it expands and enriches the mind. Carl Jung once said "You are a slave of what you need in your soul." I need albums like this in mine.

Help Me Down From The Trees
Don't Throw It Away
Someone Like You
If The Devil Cast His Net
Walk These Sreets
Absinthe In Adelaide
Into The Blue

The video for the title track has just been released and is currently premiering exclusively on Vive Le Rock:

pearl handled revolver




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