EP review: BLACK CAT BONES – Down To The River

BLACK CAT BONES – Down To The River

Black Cat Bones [Release date 29.09.17]

Not to be confused with the band that gave the world Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke from Free, this hard rocking quintet hail from Liverpool and deal with blues tinged hard rock.

Fronted by vocalist Johnny Hodson, Back Cat Bones are a riff heavy, tub thumping outfit whose explosive style kicks in at the half way point of the opening ‘Better Days’.

They carry their bluster through 5 tracks that work hard to define their own style. And if there’s a problem it’s simply that they have their work cut out to sound different from a legion of other hard rock bands.

Years ago, a band like this would be taken under the wing of the A&R department as they honed their craft. It’s a point apparently not totally lost on the band. Rather than over extending themselves with a debut album they have chosen to cut their second EP/CD in the last 4 years.

The 5 powerhouse tracks feature tight playing, steely riffs and big vocal that always aims for the grand gesture.

You can imagine Black Cat Bones being a great live band. They have a powerful front man and a combined swagger that brings real intensity into the studio. What they lack, though they are clearly working on it,  is memorable material.

It’s only when they launch into the final track ‘The River’ that they really hit the spot with a repeated hook, before an unlikely harp break ushers in a Zeppelin style stuttered rhythm and a significant drop-down before they rise again on a big finish.

‘Lust’ is a good example of a work in progress. The testosterone filled rocker relies on plenty of well worked, but clichéd references such as ‘alley cats’, ‘women and whisky’ and the inevitable ‘big leg woman’, before a slight change of tempo aims for a groove, which they build to a climax with a guitar driven finale.

‘Give You The Word’ is thoughtfully topped and tailed by a politico preacher and benefits from a more immediate hook with anthemic bv’s. It’s moments like this, when the hooks, chants and riffs come together that they will doubtless appeal to fans of bands like The Quireboys, who significantly they have already supported.

BCB are unafraid to change tempos and rack up the little self imposed tensions, leaving lead guitarist Alan Rimmer to burst through the track like an avalanche, as Hodson, reiterates the refrain.

Black Cat Bones rock hard with spicy riffs, occasional grungy influences and Hodson’s passionate vocals, though by the time of ‘Devil You Know’ they again rely on anther tempo change to break up the relentless barrage, before the piece is rescued by another fiery ascending guitar line.

You suspect the challenge facing Black Cat Bones is to bottle the magic of their live set. Perhaps an interim live album might be the order of the day, as they work on material that is strong enough to match their fiery approach. ***

Review by Pete Feenstra

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