When you look at the influences 1968 draw from, it’s obvious that they really could only name themselves after such a year. Describing themselves as hard/classic rock, Ballads of the Godless is a shoe-in for me to listen to. With its crushingly heavy opener “Devilswine”, you wouldn’t be surprised if Tony Iommi was lending his skills to the track.
It’s something which bleeds into the following number, “Screaming Sun” and from these two, you expect the rest of the album to follow in bone-crushing suit. Full of big, fuzzy riffs which laid the foundation for the 70s to up the ante several paces, the snarling vocals from Jimi Coppack creates a stoner/doom vibe.
Elsewhere, in amongst the fuzz, there’s hints of Alice in Chains with “Temple of the Acidwolf” but also adds a psychedelic flavour to the mix. It’s something which is revisited on “Chemtrail Blues” and between the pair of songs, they both definitely fall more into the William DuVall era of the grunge giants.
Meanwhile, closers “The Hunted” and “Mother of God” channel Rated R-era Queens of the Stone Age, returning the album to a more tripped-out sound, if separated by a twenty-year time difference. Whilst it sounds like the album is three completely different sounds, by grouping them all together and covering it in oodles of fuzz, there is a semblance of consistency.
What isn’t so obvious is the Thin Lizzy influences at first listen. When you’d be expecting those driving basslines and chunky chords, they’re not there. Instead, the band have looked at their earliest works and the oft-overlooked Johnny the Fox material for inspiration which found Lynott and co not quite reinventing themselves but definitely trying something different. The hook of the title track pretty much said it all.
1968 are undeniably a tight band and can bounce their influences off one another to make something cohesive. Whilst the album is various sounds mashed together, they manage to make it work. It’s not quite the classic or hard rock sound that you’d expect in 2018 and can throw you for a loop if you have a pre-conceived notion of what it’s going to sound like. I’ll admit, once it got past the Sabbath parts, I wondered if I was listening to a different album. But it works. There’s a couple of moments that feel unnecessary and a few tracks could have a bit of fat trimmed off but it’s an enjoyable listen regardless.
Ballads of the Godless is out now