The British Classic Rock band BLACK WHISKEY was formed back in 2012. The band consists of former XENTRIX and HELLFIGHTER vocalist Simon Gordon, Kev Ingles (guitar / ex- 3 STATE BLUES and WEAPON), Mark T. Parkin (bass, legendary producer Steve Booker’s band) and Rich Bannister (drums / ex-NAKEDIUM). I haven’t heard of any of those bands, save XENTRIX, since I’ve got some of their albums. Simon Gordon was vocalist in XENTRIX from 1994-1997, during which time the band toured and released the album “Scourge”. In 2008 he formed HELLFIGHTER with former XENTRIX bandmates Kristian Havard and Dennis Gasser, releasing the album “Damnation’s Wings” in 2009.
But now, anno 2015, BLACK WHISKEY is here to present their debut album, “Heavy Train”, released on 9th February 2015. A UK Tour is planned for November and meanwhile the band have confirmed a UK festival appearance at Rock and Metal Circus on 14th September and are special guests with NWOBHM legends CHROME MOLLY on 25th October at the Rock Den in Hatfield.
“Heavy Train” kicks off with “Idol Rich”. A start-stop intro is chosen instead of instantly laying all cards on the table. But once the Bluesy Rock ‘n’ Roll is loose, you can be sure it will take possession of your soul. The clean vocals go very well with this music. From start to finish you get catchy music, with the vocals taking care of the melodic aspect in the chorus. Needless to say that the production is also very good. “All Seeing Eye” continues with catchy, funky Bluesy Rock. Since there’s only one guitar and one bass, the mix was done so that the former does not drown the latter, but gives it almost equal breathing room. And this is necessary with such groovy music.
“Devil Rides” doesn’t take off right away, but builds up gradually and then unleashes its beauty with a very cool rhythm and vibe. The bridge and especially the chorus are very catchy. And while the guitar solo is an expected ingredient, it tastes great! Very groovy, too. “Stone Cold Comfort” has the bass and drum first, a part that comes across linear, yet very funky. The verses are clean, devoid of heaviness, but this also allows for the bass to come through better. Power is then reserved for the chorus. No complaints whatsoever here; on the contrary even. This is great stuff!
Oh, look, it’s Kirk Hammett (METALLICA) playing the intro of “Hungry For Bullets”. No, just kidding. But the wah-wah pedal is used. Powerful, grooving Classic Rock kicks in afterwards. It reminded me of ELDORADO (whose latest album I reviewed not that long ago – see here) and even, somehow, GUNS ‘N’ ROSES. Later on, the music turns funky, and I can assure you… it’s überdelicious. Gimme more! “Save My Life” offers Bluesy Rock like before, only a tad slower. The singing is clear and passionate, is also responsible (if layered) for the melodiousness in the chorus. As linear as this track is, BLACK WHISKEY nails it.
“The Coming Storm” offers a more powerful kind of Rock at first, though the speed doesn’t increase compared to previous songs. Atmospheric, calm verses with adapted vocals contrast nicely with the fuller chorus, where musical power is activated. However, I’m not that fond of Simon Gordon’s singing here, as it sounds a bit forced, a little too high. But that detail aside, this is another very good song. And so is “Heavy Train”, the album’s title track. This one does deliver more power and punch from start to finish. Yes! Again, a little faster would not have hurt the song or the listening experience at this stage.
Two more songs then. “Tie It Down” starts with guitar and drums (here in minimal form). While the guitar carries on, the drums open up for a full experience. The theme is also apparent in the verses, albeit in a more reserved fashion. This way, there’s more room for the bass and drums to accompany the vocals, which are set high in the mix. The chorus is, as before, of the catchy kind and features the guitar theme from the intro. I like how, before the obligatory solo moment, the band added a somewhat (by lack of a better term, although I’m sure there is one) exotic bridge. In short: killer stuff! Last and, yes, least: “Can’t Kill The Fire”. Here’s the speedy, firm and powerful track I was waiting for. This is also a catchy song, has a feel-good vibe to it. But why the least good? By itself, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just a matter of taste: I find it a little less captivating, so to speak, than most of the other tracks.
BLACK WHISKEY mentioned in the press text / biography they are inspired by classic bands like LED ZEPPELIN, FREE, UFO, THIN LIZZY, THE SCORPIONS, and so on. But I’m not familiar enough with those classics to confirm the influences. I do can tell you that “Heavy Train” is one of the best albums of 2015 and very much recommended for any Classic Rock fan. Not only are the songs very well done, the production is also a key factor in the transfer of the sounds to that part of the brain that is responsible for us feeling good, joyful, happy and so on. No, seriously, BLACK WHISKEY do deliver the goods here!
- Idol Rich
- All Seeing Eye
- Devil Rides
- Stone Cold Comfort
- Hungry For Bullets
- Save My Life
- The Coming Storm
- Heavy Train
- Tie It Down
- Can’t Kill The Fire
Simon Gordon – vocals
Kev Ingles – guitar
Mark T. Parkin – bass
Rich Bannister – drums