||THE BLACKMAIL SNAPS
'When One Door Closes, Smash A Window'
Roger Berzerk Fauske
By way of a brief introduction to the band, The Blackmail Snaps hail from the north-west of the UK and have been around now for a fraction over two years. THey feature Rich Davenport (guitar/vocals), David Nuttall (drums/vocals) and Marc Hood (bass/vocals). Now that bit is out of the way I should also mention that the band come highly recommended by none other than legendary bassist Pete Way.
So to the all important part, namely the music. If, like me, you grew up with all those dynamite classic rock and NWOBHM bands, most are whom are still treading the boards to this day, then you will love it. If you didn't then you will still love it.
'Shameless Strangers' starts proceedings and immediately you can hear the NWOBHM-esque riffery, reminiscent of Samson back in their heyday if you need some kind of gauge. The highlight of this one though is definitely the more than catchy melody on both verse and chorus.
'Heart Like A diamond' is next up and is a meaty, pounding affair right from the off, with a cool bass line filling in very nicely before exploding vocals. The only complaint I have is the bass needs to be louder, but don't tell the bassist – you know what they get like. This one powers its way behind the belting riffs, not letting up for a minute, and whilst it doesn't have the melodic grab of its predecessor, it rocks with the beat of them.
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'Circle' is a different animal although still evoking memories of those NWOBHM glory days. There is a groove to both the guitar and vocals that are guaranteed to get all sorts of body parts twitching and the backing vocals finish the whole sound off very well, not overdone as so many do. The guitar solo in the middle is a classy affair, going in an unexpected direction but semi epic in its delivery and seamless. A cracking piece of songwriting and delivery.
'Soul Connection' starts off more in the classic vein, think early Van Halen vibe from the guitar sound especially and it is again well punctuated with another cool, bass line, this time ever present. Vocally it is another interesting one with glimpses of the Crue, Poison attitude and feel jumping out at you (and before I get assaulted, that's very much loud and raucous Poison, not every rose has a damn thorn) but again melodically it is almost immediately memorable.
'Shadows Cast' is another with pounding guitar work behind it, rhythm providing a pulsing vibe through it all. On the surface it seems more straightforward but there is more than one level to this one, intricate guitar interplay with the bass and drums as well as the vocals through the chorus, and that especially works superbly – the sound is full but never crowded, not always an easy thing to get right.
A song for BT is next, with 'Disconnected' and again owes more to the classic rock side of things, great melody again backed by thrusting and chopping guitar, bass and drums always very insistent with their rhythm, pulling it along at a rate of knots. The whole thing comes to a shuddering conclusion on the back of another fine piece of six string chicanery; an eminently enjoyable track.
'When One Door Closes' is the next to assault my ears and has an anthemic quality to it, classic rock with a touch of sleaze thrown in to boot. This has an attitude all of its own as well, even with traces of punk elements and the whole mix of it thrown into the melting pot works very well but think back, NWOBHM had many of its roots in punk, so it isn't overly surprising. But what this does do very well is keeping true to the original attitudes but with an updated sound. A great track and smashing title.
'Promise' carries on with some more of that attitude, albeit in a more laid back style, guitar overlay again pulling it all along, chugging through the verses, neat patterns and shapes littered through it before very expressive solo that breaks it all up very successfully. The guitar sound is a good mix of restrain and sentiment before the short but sweet crescendo brings it to an end.
The magnificently titled 'The Wheel Is Spinning (but the hamster is dead)' is next and some more of that attitude that has come roaring in with a vengeance in the second half of the album is evident. There is again an undercurrent of Samson-esque proportions (I have mentioned them before but they were in a league of their own doing what they did) with the melody and riffs, although the vocals take another route entirely. Talking of another direction, the mid section veers off very unexpectedly but it is done very well and it is full of humour, almost some reggae vibe coming in – yep really, and it's great.
So to the album closer 'Distraction' and some very funky bass (turn it up) brings in the rest of the sound. This is a good choice as a finale – powerful, fast and full of melody, backing vocals and mainly stonkingly addictive riffs. This one as much as any of the others is guaranteed to bring you all back to your misspent youth with its aggressive yet cultured sound. But it isn't all about being retrospective, the sound is modern as well and a breath of fresh air.
So there you have it. Definitely a good album and it will leave you wanting more from them which shouldn't be too long. As you will have noticed there are traces of a lot of things running through this, but that is what they are, traces. You will no doubt have other things coming into your mind as you listen, other bands, songs even but that is the beauty of this – you know where their influences come from but you can't pin them down to any one band.
And you know what – there is a reason that so many of the bands this harks back to are still at it after all these years. They are basically just damn fine songwriters and musicians who quite frankly wipe the floor with many of the current crop.
It isn't enough to just write in the classic vein – you need to have the skills, personality and expertise to back that up, and these guys most definitely do in spades.