I have to admit to being a sucker for a split LP, probably ever since I got bought a Huggy Bear / Bikini Kill split in the early 90’s. Two bands that complement each other that then enables both bands to widen their audience to me is a great idea. At the end of the day its two ep’s on a one great record. What you will find with this Gorilla / Grifter split is that the bands not only complement each other but actually they have somehow managed to make a pretty slick and cohesive record between them. It may of course be simpler than that, both of these bands play dirty energetic rock n roll, that jumps off the vinyl and grabs you by the throat until you are having a good time. And they are both very very good at it.
So what do we know about them both? Power Trio Gorilla have been around since the late 1990’s and have played alongside bands like Gentleman’s Pistols. Grifter were not far behind them and have been around since 2003, and this three piece have toured with the likes of Orange Goblin.
There is no denying that Gorilla pay a due of homage to Motorhead and the late Lemmy, they share that love on their Facebook page and it is really evident with Album Opener “Both Barrells”. This is a stomping, full throttle reworking of “Ace of Spades”. It’s hard to get away to the closeness of the two songs but that said Gorilla not only manage to capture the spirit of Motorhead (as well as the riffs) but also manage to bring it up to date. When I first listened to this track, to me in sounded more like an Early Kings Of Leon playing with the passion and voice of Lemmy.
Gorilla’s second track “Slay Rider”, though, takes that influence and transforms it into their own sound and this is where Gorilla really excel. It’s got the same energy, the same voice, again, brilliant use of simple riffs but mixed in with a slight doom and stoner rock feel. It is an absolutely brilliant track that I simply cannot get enough of. Part Hawkwind, part traditional British blues rock and roll. It just has a vibe that I love and it is great that there is a band bringing this to a new generation with the enthusiasm of a band that still feels it has a lot to offer. The guitar and musical interlude in this song are worth listening to in separation. I’d buy this album for this track alone.
Third offering “Grind You Down” is another stomper. I love the guitar riff opening on this song. Its talented without being show offy and has the rhythm section of stoner rock whilst the guitar has that more guitar attack machine gun sound and energy of British rock of the 70’s. There is no denying that singer’s voice has that Lemmy rasp but it suits the band so well. There is one thing sounding like and paying homage to your heroes and it is quite another to take that to another level, with songs, energy and an attitude that is all your own.
To add to my personal delight Gorilla’s final track “Three Squeeler” is more doom laden, displaying another edge to what they have to offer. One of the strengths of Gorilla is that they are able to engage musically as a three piece before the vocals kick in (which is quite late) on this track. This is dirty, raunchy metal to the floor rock and roll. Great intro to the band.
It was always going to be hard to find a band to be the other side of a Gorilla split LP. Who can match them for energy, rock, talent and pure power. Step forward Grifter, not an absolute like for like match (but then this is what I love about split LP’s) but an absolutely brilliant choice to pair up with Gorilla. These two sharing the same record really does work. Where Gorilla are full on rock and roll Grifter take perhaps an even more traditional 60’s basted blue’s rock to their sound, but they are just as inventive, just as energetic and just as catchy as the former.
“Falling asleep” starts with a low dirty bass before going into a funky riff style groove. Grifter are more stripped back than Gorilla have a more low down dirty rock and roll vibe. They remind me of the Jim Jones Revue. They have that same bar brawl dirtiness but with a rock and roll good time vibe about them. This is really apparent when the vocals kick in. This is gravelly, pre punk Dr Feelgood rasp and it fits in with the cut of this track very well.
Second track “Paige Turner” continues this theme and I guarantee that by this point you will be bouncing along. The balance between the short riffs and the call and return mix in of the vocals suits them well. When the musical bridge hits in half way though the song, the repeated riffs have become addictive. This is a definitely a band you can imagine in a dark cellar blowing the place apart.
“Hi Waisted”, is a prime example of this addictive rock and roll vibe, the intro goes through three of four different rock n roll styles and riffs before the vocals kick in, all of them are slightly hyper and make you want to dance. To imagine “Hi Waisted” just imagine a really drawn back AC/DC so you still have the big chorus, the rock and roll verses and songs but sound wise, this is a lot more organic, less individual based like AC/DC and more the band all getting in the groove together.
Final track of the album “Me Love” is actually Grifters biggest sounding track. It starts with a blast of guitars, chopping in and out before their by now familiar sound returns. On this track I like the vocalist’s style, it’s a little less gravelly and has a few more nuances to the voice, It sounds as though he might at any time just loose things a little and that is a fun edge to introduce. “Me Love” is a full-on blast of a song and great album closer.