All too worringly, the UK hard rock scene has been propped up by a number of stalwarts over recent years and has not been dominating the market like it once did. Motörhead, The Wildhearts, Therapy?, to name a few proved to be the stalwarts of true, dangerous rock ‘n’ roll in the UK, which, fair to say, hasn’t gotten much attention over the last few years, as waves of tidily (or hideously) dressed bands have gotten all the attention for their tales of clean-cut clichéd love and despair. True, proper rock ‘n’ roll never went away – there’s been some fantastic albums in recent years, e.g. The Wildhearts’ ‘Chutzpah!’ and the criminally overlooked but fantastic G.U. Medicine’s ‘Lords of Oblivion’ to name but two – but it’s remained in the UK’s musical underbelly, as wave after wave of attention is given to bland, image-obsessed bands, not worthy of carrying this country’s proud rock ‘n’ roll legacy.
True rock ‘n’ roll should be dangerous. It should be raucous, sleazy, and downright heavy. It’s a winning, kick-ass formula. And Black Spiders possess it in spades.
Right from the get-go, ‘Sons of the North’ is a mission statement, a call to arms to shake British hard rock off its backside in order to reclaim its rightful throne. The first five tracks alone are staggering – ‘Stay Down’, originally featured on the EP ‘Cinco Hombres (Diez Cojones)’, is a three-minute thunderbolt, which states the band’s intentions not just lyrically but musically. The main riff is heavy as, and a real sonic tour-de-force. This is followed by the tongue-in-cheek ‘KISS Tried To Kill Me’, the chorus of which I defy you not to sing – it is that damn catchy. The riffage doesn’t let up – ‘Just Like A Woman’ (another former Black Spiders single) possesses real swagger and is again a fine example of what the Spiders deal in – quality, A-grade riffage and catchy choruses; and the epic ‘Blood of the Kings’ is a real stomper from start to finish, coming in at a whopping 7 minutes, 43 seconds. Pure rock ‘n’ roll ecstasy.
The second half begins ever so slightly more laid back as ‘St. Peter’ kicks in, although it soon kicks back into gear. It’s been a mainstay of their set since their inception and it’s still a quality tune to this day. The riffage continues to flow in abundance, particularly so on ‘Man’s Ruin’, but sure finishes with a flourish with the majestically titled ‘What Good’s a Rock Without a Roll?’, a song reminiscent of Thin Lizzy’s greatest moments, ironically and proudly proclaiming ‘Eat thunder, shit lightning!’
This is a stormer from start to finish. It deserves gallons of ale, whiskey and mead swigged in celebration. The exemplary songwriting I mentioned previously is apparent throughout the record – these songs really stick in the head, from the choruses to the riffage. Even the round-the-campfire intro to ‘St. Peter’ continues to swirl round my brain since the moment it set upon my ears. Every groove, every solo, every meaty drum roll deserve a head bang, a fist in the air, or a chorus sung back in unison with the stereo.
‘Sons of the North’ more than deservedly joins the pantheon of recent kick ass UK rock records (those aforementioned records included). And if there’s any justice in this world, they’ll go beyond their Jagermeister stage headlining spot at Sonisphere onto bigger and better things. Let’s get behind them and take back what is rightfully ours.