We first encountered Baleful Creed when they played last year’s Wildfire Festival where Ross was very impressed and we had a nice natter post-festival. While they bill themselves as simply “hard rock”, let me tell you that they have a shovelful of blues and groove in there, too. That’s a shovelful of each. Nothing spared.
Fin Finlay’s gravelly vocals throughout Seismic Shifter pay testament to his love of the amber fluid. They suit the generally slow pace of their tracks perfectly, and are never buried beneath the music. Talking of which, his guitars and John Allen’s pair perfectly and never try to be anything other than all they need to be. No excess widdle, no showing off, just… just spot on, really.
Given the slow pace and low tuning of the sound, it’s no surprise that Davy Greer’s bass isn’t just used to background rhythm but can be heard throughout with a few bursts where it comes to the fore. When he is keeping rhythm, the plodding beat is shared with Dave Jeffers who – again – doesn’t go in for this whole “showing off” nonsense. He’s a man with a job and that job is to keep your head bobbing.
What I love about Seismic Shifter is its simplicity. There aren’t any surprises or new formulas at play here, instead Baleful Creed have taken the foundations of heavy blues rock and absolutely nailed them. Witness the simple “dum-dum-dum-dum” chugging rhythm of “Levy”, interspersed with short soulful guitar breaks and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Hell, it’s even got some mouth organ in there. Sweet.
Every track without exception has a killer intro that sets the scene. You’re simply wrapped up in the tune before the vocals even kick in, and by that time you’re hooked. “God’s Fear” pinches a bit from the Black Sabbath book of earworms and “Memento Mori” perhaps owes a little to The Doors’ “L.A. Woman”, but if you’re going to have influences it makes sense to pick from the best.
From songs about sleazy women (“Grind”) to belief – or lack of it – (“Lose Religion”) to incredible anthemic album-closer “The Wolf”, there’s no time to get bored. It’s like someone took the late 70s and turned the dial up to “heavy as fuck”.
Baleful Creed have a genuinely great album on their hands here, and you should have it in yours. If your preference is for classic rock then you simply have to add Seismic Shifter to your collection.
Seismic Shifter is out before the end of May and can be pre-ordered now.