It struck my mind some time ago that 2013 was an incredible year for debut albums with the likes of The Virginmarys, Black Star Riders and of course, The Burning Crows. All of whom have their follow-up due in 2015. So if 2013 was the year of the debut album, 2015 must surely be the year of the difficult second album.
And with The Burning Crows, that’s certainly the case. Behind the Veil was an incredible debut effort, one I didn’t think they could top. Not only have they topped it, Murder at the Gin House uses the bar set by the debut as a skipping rope before beating it into submission.
funded once again via PledgeMusic, the band who introduced me to the service, Murder at the Gin House firmly plants its feet in “album of the year” territory after just one listen. If you like your rock hard and heavy with a hint of sleaze and hair metal from the 80s, fill your boots with this album.
Once the slow-burner of the introduction of “Hell to Pay” subsides and the main riff hits like a speeding train, they set the stage for the remainder of the album and refuse to slow down for anything in their way.
There’s no distinct departure from Behind the Veil, nor is there the feeling of sticking to the same blueprint which made it so enjoyable. Instead the band tighten their belts and refine their already distinct brand of rock. There’s a sense of growth and maturity alongside a hunger lacking in a lot of bands today.
With “11:37”, “Come On” and “Shine”, we’re given tracks which are representative of the band’s music and displaying their growth as a band. Meanwhile “Feels Like Home”, The Burning Crows have created their own anthem to drink to, complete with a chorus to chant along with. Regardless of the subject, it’s one of the standout tracks on an album full of gems.
It’s not all hard rock and aggression as they tame themselves for a couple of numbers like the epic, goose bump-inducing album closer “Holding On” and the ballad Aerosmith never wrote during their late 80s/early 90s comeback, “Goodbye (To the Sunshine)”.
Whippz Crow howls and snarls his way through his vocal duties. His inimitable voice booming from his stomach, rather than his lungs, twists its way round the melodies he and Lance Daniels lay down on their guitars. As always, the pair of them manage to work around each other, never stepping on each other’s toes. There’s a lot of different influences in both of their performances to create a unique blend and I could probably name ten different bands where they’re drawn influence from. At no point can I pinpoint anything which is a straight carbon copy or homage; instead they carve their own niche.
Will Lockett provides meaty bass lines throughout the album, shining on songs like “Holding On” and “Alright”. He locks in with Chris Chapman on drums to create a solid rhythm section, pounding the life out of his drumkit, the pair of them driving the songs forward. Much of Chapman’s drumming reminds me of Steven Adler; a consistent thunder without having to be overly complex.
As with their last effort, Nick Brine sits in the producer’s chair, pushing them even further than last time to give an even more polished album. My only problem with Behind the Veil was at fourteen tracks, I felt it was a bit bloated. However, Murder at the Gin House is a far leaner beast at only ten tracks which makes for a far more concise record, giving quality over quantity.
Between the matured sound, satisfying the hunger built for new material without overstaying its welcome and leaving me wanting more, Murder at the Gin House is the perfect follow-up album. It’s a hard job to surpass a strong debut album like theirs but The Burning Crows manage it effortlessly.
Murder at the Gin House is available now via PledgeMusic and general release is slated for 6th July.