Monday, April 9, 2012

Voodoo Johnson - Black Powder Mother Loader

Not really sure why this EP didn’t hit our radar a little sooner, but nonetheless . . . better late than never.

So, here’s the background that I know on this outfit calling themselves Voodoo Johnson. They’re a five piece hailing from Birmingham (England, that is) and they seem to be getting quite a bit of publicity in their homeland. Now, to the meat. These guys flat out rock!

Incorporating elements of the early 90’s Seattle movement with a healthy dose of modern rock, placed in the midst of a heaping mound of classic 70’s-era rock, Black Powder Mother Loader is a relatively short burst of outstanding hard rock! Being that this record is a mere EP, I find myself listening over and over again . . . call it the track listing and arrangement, combined with the fact that the music is so damn good . . . once the record ends, I want to immediately listen to it all over again.

“Black Skies Mist” actually comes bursting out of the speakers with a dramatic heavy metal-esque riff, completely transcending any boundaries that I had preconceived. Throughout this five minute mini-epic, Voodoo Johnson expertly change tempos and tones, creating moments of air in the midst of some pretty heavy rockin’ passages. The melodies are infectious enough to have you humming along and the nuances are memorable affairs. And the guitar solo . . . damn! Full of class, Gilmour-esque sustained notes that drip with emotion. The song has great elements of modern rock sounds with just enough flavor from past generations to catch the ear, making me think that I’ve heard this somewhere before, or asking myself, ‘who the hell does this remind me of?’ There’s a little Candlebox in there, maybe a little Mother Tongue . . . whoever I’m hearing as an influence, it works.

On “The Garden”, the band makes a pretty dramatic stylistic shift compared to the first two songs on the EP. This song is a more stripped down, mellowed out tune with a big nod in the direction of Led Zeppelin and their classic “Going To California”. I love the way this song breaks up the hard rockin’ tone of the EP . . . the placement is perfect, giving the listener a brief respite from the more bludgeoning rockers. The singers voice has a compelling aspect to it . . . just enough sensitivity and vulnerability to get nostalgic and maybe feel a more somber emotion, yet masculine enough to make feel  cool while we think about our weaknesses.

Coming out of the low key tones of “The Garden”, Voodoo Johnson drop an Alice In Chains-flavored rocker as if sung by Three Doors Down. Great riff, heavy and menacing . . . and coupled with this singers voice, it just has a gritty vibe that makes me want to constantly turn up the volume, to blast out the neighbors, irritate the landlord, and cause general havoc throughout the neighborhood. The song also features some cool dynamic shifts with a nice breakdown in the middle, a striking melody at the chorus, and more of the aforementioned emotional guitar work.

Wrap this little gem up with “United Divided”, arguably my favorite track from the disc, and you have a good twenty minutes of steady hard rock with just enough variance to keep things interesting. Word has it that there are a couple full-length albums fluttering around out there from these guys, and let me tell you . . . I’ll be hunting those down. Black Powder Mother Loader is the kind of disc that I can have playing to fit a number of different moments throughout the day. The music is never so abrasive to offend, yet it’s never too mellow as to vanish from the greater consciousness. One could draw a modern day comparison with the Mighty Zeppelin, the masters of balancing dark and light, hard and soft. I’m sold . . . now gimme more!


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