THE HOWLING LORDS - ‘TEXAS MEDICINE’ - ALBUM REVIEW - C. T. Herron

 

It’s apt that I’m listening to the Howling Lords as the wind howls and batters at my window pane on a cold November night, winter is coming, but we can look forward to the warm reception of March unfolding spring, when the Howling Lords will be out of hibernation on their Hebridean rocky island of Stornaway, and back on tour with some hard-hitting support acts. 

Until then, we have ‘Texas Medicine’, and for my own Texas Medicine this evening I have brewed an extra strong cafatiere of java and added a little bourbon, it is the law to drink booze when listening to the Lords’ consuming blues. The rain pounds a staccato rhythm on the glass and I just need a crack of jagged lightning across the sky for added effect… But it doesn’t come, however all the lights are out, save the intermittent glow of my joint-end and the eerie red luminescence of the reptile tank’s bulb, the usually-subterranean sand-digging skinks are out bathing in the heat of it, their bodies intertwined like two glossy snakes… Glimmering like steel in the dark… The gecko is nowhere to be seen… The headphones are in and I hit play and The Lords jerk me out of my reverie with some heavy-hitting harmonies… 

‘Looking At Me’ has some solid riffs and some meandering landscapes, some moody vocs and bluesy but heavy guitar a’la Left Lane Cruiser. The rolling landscapes of their homeland is recreated in heavy doses in an atmospheric rum-soaked rock and roll ditty. The wobbling, thrumming bass, like waves of thunder and sheets of lightning across fields and hills rounds the song off nicely. I had to wrestle with that comma button for ages there! Maybe I should turn the lights on,,,,,, 

‘Black Dog’ is an ominous and foreboding tune; it shares its name with a Zeppelin song and is not unlike the Zep in its deliverance, albeit with a modern indie twist. Some soaring guitar solos to set it off nicely that would have pleased Jimmy, and they reverberate into an almighty electronic assault on the senses which I find inebriating, like this dark alcoholic coffee. 

The bassist is very skilled, as he keeps demonstrating here and there, overlapped with truly sonorous explosions of drums and plangent guitar, an album with real rock and roll balls, which is all too rare in an era of lolly-gagging, bed-wetting, pansy-sniffing imitators and pretenders. Grimy, unctuous snakebite blues is the main poison of this record as is further exemplified in ‘Talk Like That’, an angry, bitter burst of grunge and blues alloyed and stirred with scintillating guitar solos that shred the nervous system, nice. 

Even verging on punk rock now with ‘Green Dress’; every instrument is wielded with a formidable mastery and an unrelenting, all-consuming force. Long, vibrating, stretched-out soundscapes lead us into ‘Howling at the Moon’. This whole album howls at the moon, for sure, it slams down a few whiskeys, shatters the glass against the wall like the Last Great King of Scotland and runs naked through dark woods ululating at the moon… 

         …Or maybe I just shouldn’t have smoked all that blunt in a oner… 

                                                                                                   …Non, je ne regrette rien… 

More coffee, more bourbon, more Howling Lords… Who are screaming now about She Devils, some brilliant drumming on this track, and as you may have come to expect, excellent guitar solos tying the whole structure together and playing it out in fine style, each and every time, solid and consistent. 

The lizard spies the furtive movements of a nearby cricket and darts forward with a speed untraceable with the human eye, the writhing insect is devoured within seconds, nothing left but twitching limbs sticking crudely from the scaly lips of the predator. 

Psychobilly blues next, and we’re tripping balls into Still Waters, some brilliant Joe Walsh style guitar effects I’m really digging, and that drawling vocal is the whiskey in your water. This song pours cement in your boots and drops you into a sea of blues, drowned in riffs, then yanked back out just in time to be resuscitated for the next track… The surreal Soul to Sell… 

Spooky, atmospheric, slightly demonic, even dipping its toe in the muddy waters of heavy metal, a great track, and a testament to the album’s diversity. The next song lifts us back up, almost into indie/pop, it’s suddenly like an outer body experience; rising us up, then suddenly hurling us forward on melodies of pure rock orchestra. They’ve actually almost saved the best for last with ‘God on the Stairs’, it’s a heartfelt opus of melody and majesty. This might actually be my favourite track on the album, this glittering gem they’ve rolled out at the end, a ruby in the crown of an atmospheric blues-rock-indie-pop oeuvre! Howling Lords are maybe one of the best blues bands in Scotland. 

Check out their music here: https://soundcloud.com/thehowlinglords  

And I’ll seeya’ in the pit in March for their Glasgow gig, keep an eye on their page here for more details: https://www.facebook.com/thehowlinglords/  

CTH (Gonzo Div.)