I came across Puppet Kings when their last EP, Very Cool & Groovy, landed in my lap. Well, digital lap. And since the EP was a perfect reflection of its title, it’s only fair to visit the contents of their latest EP. Although this one’s called The Mountain, the music still fits the title of its predecessor.
It’s hard rock with oodles of groove, that much is certain. However, instead of creating a carbon copy, these four new songs push their sound forward, taking in a more alternative slant and dialling back on the gritty sound. It’s still plentifully heavy, it’s just less in your face about it. Full of driving bass lines, it forms the basis of the grooves and whilst the guitar riffs still have plenty of teeth to them, the points are slightly less sharp.
Whilst the more traditional influences like Guns N’ Roses are there, there’s a marked influence from Queens of the Stone Age, particularly on closing track “Bag of Bones”, using their familiar stomp and desert vibes. Elsewhere, “Mountain Song”’s intro is eerily similar to The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” with its bouncy melody to the point where you expect to hear Sir Mick’s falsetto before it descends into his familiar rasp. Here, however, the melody’s far crunchier and grittier than the Stones’ foray into disco music.
There’s plenty of bite on opening song “The Message” with its chugging riff whilst “Age of Austerity” takes its cues from Foo Fighters’ grimier radio-friendly numbers. It’s also infused with QotSA once more taking their more psychedelic and Villains-esque dancey influences.
The Mountain is a great EP and shows Puppet Kings can evolve whilst still being true to themselves. It’s still hard rock, just perhaps not in the more traditional sense and certainly not the usual fare in these last few years. Instead, the two-piece challenge the brute force of tradition to inject their alternative influences into the mix to create something unique.
The Mountain is out now