It is not very often that listening to a new album makes you want to cry, dance and brawl at the same time, but The Virginmarys’ “King of Conflict” does just that. It is like getting caught in a ruckus that leaves you with a bloody nose, a smile on your face and a rush to the head.
So, it is easy to see why invitations to tour with Slash, Reverend & The Makers, Feeder and Eagles of Death Metal have arisen over the last couple of years. The Macclesfield trio, Ally Dickaty (vocals and guitar), Danny Dolan (drums) and Matt Rose (bass and vocals) have often been compared to Led Zeppelin with a sound that resonates around the late 60s and early 70s. Mix that up with The Stooges, the Foo Fighters and a smattering of Motorhead meets The Arctic Monkeys and you have one riotous reincarnation of grunge with a bluesy edge.
Produced by Toby Jepson (The Little Angels) and mixed by Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro, Skunk Anansie), “King of Conflict” is a thrilling exploration of a darker side of life. Lyrically explosive, themes of destructive behaviour, helpless submission and hopeless loves lost, are tightly wound into a helter skelter of toe tapping drums, the grind of raw riffs and gruff northern vocals that sound like Lemmy after gargling mouthwash.
The fact that they have opened their debut album with their acclaimed single “Dead Man’s Shoes” doesn’t set the bar high for what follows, it merely sets the standard of the following eleven tracks as, well, outstanding. “Portrait of Red” covers sensitive ground about male victims of domestic violence and demonstrates the bands ability to traverse moods with fleeting injections of Stone Roses essence. “Just a Ride” has got to be my favourite track with choruses full of harmonies about the numb recognition of a failed relationship which rollercoasters along until the ride ends. Slowing down slightly, “Out of Mind” produces interesting melodious interludes which deliver us neatly into pistols at dawn and gunslingers standoff style in “Bang, Bang, Bang” with its tortured lyrics and disjointed insanity. Indeed, “Running For My Life” is similarly punctuated and conjures up images of retro cop shows complete with car chases interrupted by still frames and credits. “Dressed to Kill” is melancholy and dangerous whereas “My Little Girl” is a get down and dirty striptease of a song. “You’ve Got Your Money, I’ve Got My Soul” shuns the face of capitalism.
Finally, when “Ends Don’t Mend” winds you down with a false sense of comfort, its tones of atmospheric blues offering you that long awaited drag of oxygen, it is not long before the anticipation grows for another fix and soon. This album is powerful, dangerous and daring. It is one hit that will pulse in your veins for months to come and, believe me, the craving will never go away.