Chances are if you’ve been following the UK’s modern hard rock scene for the past couple of years, three words will have likely cropped up in conversation: Those Damn Crows. Proving that Wales can give the world music other than Phil Campbell and Tom Jones [yes, Tigertailz! – Mosh], they’re a band on a quest to show the world the power of no-nonsense hard rock in its up-to-date form. Murder and the Motive is the band repackaging their debut album with the backing of Earache Records and a new sense of purpose.
For starters, the album is ten tracks and comes just shy of the 40-minute mark. None of the ten comes close to 5 minutes in length and for any discerning rock fan, that should tell you everything. And indeed, by the time the album finishes, it’s proof of concept. It gets in, tells you what it has to say and leaves without ceremony and adding more to the conversation than it has to. Indeed, by the time opening track “Don’t Give a Damn” has finished, you know exactly what this band is all about: big choruses, infectious riffs, lyrics you can relate to, drums to get your head nodding to and all tied together to give you a sense of familiarity.
And if there’s anything close to a knock against this album, it’s that: familiarity. If you’re looking for a brand new sound, this isn’t the album for you. It’s Those Damn Crows’ chief commodity. They want to remind you of how great straightforward hard rock is with a modern take to it. It’s a sound that has been plied for the last few years and there’s so many great bands reaping the rewards like Stone Broken and Anchor Lane. However, what gives the Welsh five-piece the edge over so many others is blindingly obvious – the skill. They do it better than most and that’s what going to pay dividends.
Sure, the lyrical topics are retreading old ground such as the aforementioned “Don’t Give a Damn” looks at the concept of past mistakes but they twist the perspective into knowing you’ve made them but letting them hold you back, even if others are there to remind you of them. Elsewhere “Rock and Roll Ain’t Dead” with its twiddly riff and a chorus begging for an audience to scream back at the band is the latest “Fuck X Factor and all those programmes and what they stand for” song. Again, it’s been done but this acknowledges that whilst rock may not be the popular kid in school anymore, it’s still toiling away to serve those who are faithful to it.
“Blink of an Eye” is one of their powerful moments despite it not being the heaviest song on the album – don’t worry, it’s not mid to late 80s Bon Jovi levels of syrupy. Meanwhile, Shane Greenhall’s impassioned vocals aren’t the stereotypical you’d expect to hear on music like this. They’re not measured booms in an effort to channel Brent Smith or Tyler Connolly. Instead, their sandpaper quality matches the scratching tones of guitarists Ian Thomas and Dave Winchurch. The guitars are less pristine with more rage and crunch in a similar way to Foo Fighters.
Those Damn Crows are a band who would fit in as well supporting Foos as they would be with the likes of Airbourne. Murder and the Motive is a great album which shows off a lot of skill and chemistry. It may not push the genre forward but that isn’t what they’re trying to do. Having caught them a couple of times in the last year or so, it’s an album reflective of their high-energy shows.
Murder and the Motive is out now