Album Review – Heaven’s Basement – “Filthy Empire”

filthy empire

If one band has had more ups and downs than a groupie’s knickers, (if you’ll pardon that well-worn phrase), having tried and tried again for years on end, then surely, success must prevail for Heavens Basement at last?  With a history of hectic touring schedules behind and ahead of them; some significant band member changes over the years and two EPs to their name, the UK rockers are about to release their debut album, recorded and produced by John Feldman (Black Veil Brides/Papa Roach).

This is not an album that will “grow” on you if you like hard rocking heavy riffage, gut wrenching vocals, and slapping drums.  No.  It will grab you from the moment vocalist, Aaron Buchanan, screams the first blood curdling words “Welcome home!  Come In!”.  It will proceed to shake you up and down by the scruff of your neck and have you pressing the replay button from the moment the last note crashes out. Girls.  Boys.  The door is wide open upon this “Filthy Empire”.  Please, go through.

Bold and ballsy, “Welcome Home” is followed by the single “Fire Fire”, released towards the end of last year.  It has everything on offer from its distinctive intro, huge riffs, melodious interludes and tumbling lead solos from guitarist Sid Glover that take the song home to a Guns N Roses/Slash ending.

“Nothing Left To Lose”, a defiant song of no regrets, is their second single from the album.  It is full of chunky verses and an uplifting chorus that sticks in your head and I guarantee you’ll be singing that one for days afterwards.

“Lights Out In London” slows the process down slightly.  In the form of a bluesy number sung with bitter emotion conveying despair on the darker streets of London, it is a thought provoking moment before “I Am Electric” kicks in.  Now, stand back and bare caution, this one spits venom.  It is an in your face wakeup call in the form of a sharp slap about the chops that is finished off with a dash of screamo.

There are a couple of obvious clichés that glare occasionally, one being “The Long Goodbye”, taken from their second EP “Unbreakable”.  A song with twangy riffs reminiscent of The Cult, it is about not knowing what you’ve got until its gone, but that said it is well structured with varying melodies although the verses are a little unmemorable.

“Heartbreaking Son of a Bitch” tumbles along with unrelenting energy.  I loved the slightly distorted vocal intro which enhances the sheer bloody mindedness of a song delivered by Aaron with cocksure expression.  “Be Somebody” however, alters that divine moment when we get back to clichés.  It does display Aarons full range of vocal capabilities but the hard rocking attitude softens here and is more suited to mainstream listening targets with its easy melody and simply predictable lyrics – “I want to be somebody, I want to leave this town” etc.  It is a stadium anthem for sure, but one that I would choose to miss and take a trip to the bar.

“Can’t Let Go” from their first self-titled EP displays their talents for conjuring a multitude of melodic changes, with again, a slice of Guns N Roses style, and it takes us through the different levels of a love song hell bent on possession and obsession.

If there has to be a spine tingling moment on this promising album, then, “Price We Pay” will release the grip on the scruff of your neck and will tickle the hairs until you have goose bumps like mountains.  It is a delightful track with soulful vocals accompanied by acoustic guitar and piano, later joined by cello and the light peppering of percussion before soaring to a gentle crescendo.  This one keeps the album and the listener grounded.

“Jump Back” hurls us back to life with bluesy rock and roll, a good one for a dance about, before “Executioners Day”, the aptly placed finale on this album, races us out on the wave of a menacing stampede.

Having naturally gathered a multitude of influences in their time spent on the road, “Filthy Empire” proudly carries English eloquence and the result is Brit rock at its most potent. It is full of gigantic sing along choruses, powerhouse drumming, sliding guitars and chugging bass lines.

It’s true.  Heavens Basement have nothing left to loose and everything to gain.

This review is also available at www.stereoboard.com via http://www.stereoboard.com/content/view/177133/9

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