Australia is oft-overlooked when it comes to band origins. However, it’s churned out some quality acts over the years, especially so in recent times with Airbourne, Palace of the King and Massive. Darcee Fox are the latest hard rock band to poke their head out from Melbourne and announce their existence.
When you get an album land in your inbox which cites influences such as Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Rival Sons, Alter Bridge, Guns N’ Roses and The Rolling Stones, you can be certain I’ll have those sounds jammed in my ears quicker than Usain Bolt can earn an Olympic gold medal. From the minute I hit play, I’m in sheer awe. Islands isn’t the album which changes everything. It blends a classic sound with a modern sound, full of vigour and swagger. It’s nothing which hasn’t been done before. But it’s better than the majority.
As soon as title track “Islands” opens the album and the riff kicks in almost simultaneously with Elliot Okerstrom’s vocals, you know you’re in for a treat. Imagine the shit-kicking forcefulness of Airbourne’s riffs with Myles Kennedy singing on top of them. Boiled down to their essence, that’s what this band sounds like. It’s a sound revisited with “Teeth”, a frenetic, teeth-baring (sorry) song. Loaded with aggression, it’s a perfect example of no-frills high-octane rock.
The riffs on offer from Nick Casalini and Mark Day crunch and grind, displaying a wealth of influences, producing a sound which only a Les Paul can make. The fact there’s two of them makes it all the more sweet. There’s wandering, varied licks of Zeppelin injected with a bluesy sound at moments whilst at other points there’s a more 70s Aerosmith chunky bluesy hardness to the music.
Then there’s “Night Owl”, one of the more complex sounds gargantuan in sound and length compared to the rest of the tracks. There’s melody married with the down-tuned sounds of Alter Bridge and you’d expect it to come from their early works. It builds to a thrilling conclusion, steadily building momentum until the pressure builds and explodes like a champagne cork.
Elsewhere, there’s nods to AC/DC with hints of “You Shook Me All Night Long” on the opening of “Wanderlust”. The song may not share the same assured swagger and takes on more wistful sound. It’s a great display of Okerstrom’s vocal range, showing tenderness and screams coming straight from his gut.
Meanwhile, bass man Jay Morgan and Karl Mallet on drums lock in to create some solid grooves and regardless of the baker’s dozen songs found on the album, you’ll find yourself nodding along. You can hear Karl Mallet’s influences in full on the aforementioned “Night Owl”, almost as if he asked Steven Adler himself to provide the drums on the track. Morgan makes his presence well-known on the waltzing “Coil”, with a tree trunk-thick bassline.
Islands may be an appropriate name for the album as it sounds like it’s only Darcee Fox inhabiting the space. They’ve managed to find the perfect point of intersection where classic meets modern. The most refreshing thing about this is that their modern sound isn’t inspired by the usual suspects either. This is real, down-to-earth rock and roll for the 21st Century.
Islands is out now