Cherry Red [Release date 06.04.15]
High Wycombe’s Jettblack have only partially registered on my ageing cortex in recent years, and in truth they’ve not really made an impression. Years ago they toured with Airbourne, more recently with Reckless Love. But fast forward to 2015 and ‘Disguises’ lands on the mat with a thump. This could be the band’s defining moment.
If we discount the previous album of mainly re-recordings and covers – ‘Black Gold’ – this is the third “proper” album following the worthy ‘Raining Rock’ in 2012 and might be seen as a natural progression. The break from their usual producer may have been a good move as this is a lot more rounded offering that pitches them with contemporaries such as H.E.A.T. and The Treatment.
Perhaps I was a little put off their previous product by the perceived retro eighties sleaze/glam metal vibe and whilst that can still be detected (for example ‘Broken Bones’), ‘Disguises’ is simply a very fine heavy rock album. It’s mostly heavy riffage and irresistible traction from the moment the band burst into ‘Slaves’, via ‘Explode’ and the grinding title track, to the superb ‘Human’.
It’s not all riffs and groove, on tracks like ‘Poison Rain’ and ‘Evidence’ a lot of thought has been put into the arrangements with good use of vocal harmonies and changes of pace to keep the listener hooked. ‘Enemy’ also provides a welcome bit of light and shade whilst ‘Smokes & Mirrors’ is a little bit Winger in styling and a fine way to end the album.
Musically, ‘Disguises’ is a great vehicle for singer (and main writer) Will Stapleton but most of all it’s a great advertisement for a band that after some years may be poised for bigger things. ****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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