Album Review: Those Damn Crows – Inhale/Exhale

A true success story, Bridgend’s Those Damn Crows are soaring new heights with the release of their third record, Inhale/Exhale. Accidental stars of their own Crowcast which saw the band talk to a wide range of personalities from the world of rock during the pandemic, this follow-up to 2020’s Point of No Return sees the band draw on the emotion of personal challenges, observations of the human reaction to adversity and how we breathe. “Have you ever noticed when you experience an emotion that your breath changes? We all must learn how to breathe in certain scenarios,” says singer Shane Greenhall.

All the qualities that make the Crows such hot property today is here. Anthemic rockers, smooth melodies, stirring lyrics and songs that you just can’t get out of your head. Boosted by a wealth of huge appearances and tours in 2022, 2023 sees the band embark on another headline tour of the UK. Ahead of that, Inhale/Exhale shows exactly why this band are ready to step up to the next level.

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Whilst Inhale/Exhale is inevitably filled full of the arena rock anthems that the Crows have become adept at crafting, there are a few surprises. The darker “Fill the Void” that opens is a high tempo rocker with a darker edge than many may have expected. “Wake Up (Sleepwalker)”, the first single from the album urges people to rise and cut their puppet strings.  it’s a statement, an observation of how society is sleeping under the supervision of the rich and the tech giants who are creating a society dependent on their phones. Ironically, I expect Swansea Arena to be full of such gadgets when the band belt this out next week.

Singalong songs with great hooks are a Crows trademark, and they’ve pulled together several more for the catalogue. the more melodic “Takedown”, which sees the band demonstrate why they are poised to follow the US Arena giants like Shinedown into bigger venues. It’s made for rock radio, the slower tempo suiting the hands in the air style. “Man on Fire” which considers your unrecognised potential is similarly crafted and delivered.

Although Inhale/Exhale is front loaded with the anthems, the second half doesn’t slack in anyway. The semi-ballad “This Time I’m Ready” is another already released, and it’s typical Crows, it smoulders, builds and erupts before easing back into a calm piano finale. “See You Again” is designed for couples to singalong together, for road trip play lists and is another sure-fire inclusion on the set list. Based on the thoughts of many during lockdown, it’s about the band’s desire to see their fans. Whilst you might class it as a bit cheesy, it’s a fantastic rock song and the emotion from a band who appear as genuine as they are Welsh can’t fail to tremble the heart, even if just a little.

Final song “Waiting for Me” brings with it the final surprise. An industrial vibe ripples through it, making it one of the heavier songs on the album. It certainly got me nodding along, with the slightly sinister vibe that threatens throughout. It’s the curved ball I wanted to counterbalance some of the lighter tracks, and it works well.

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It’s inevitable that focus sits on singer Greenhall, but the band is a solid unit and the musicianship of the band shines throughout. You can’t ignore the solid backbone provided by drummer Ronnie Huxford and bassist Lloyd Wood, whilst the twin guitar work of Ian “Shiner” Thomas and David Winchurch switches from subtle to explosive. With an excellent production thanks to Dan Weller and mixer Phil Gornell, both big hitters in the industry, and a striking piece of artwork, Inhale/Exhale is likely to propel the band into the music charts and to wider prominence.

In 2021 I saw the band at Steelhouse Festival and predicted that they’d be headlining the event by 2023. They’ve been announced as special guests, so I wasn’t far away. If they aren’t closing the event at the top of the mountain in two years’ time, I’ll be amazed.

Inhale/Exhale is out now

Header image by Dean Chalkley

Check out all the bands we review in 2023 on our Spotify and YouTube playlists!

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February 28, 2023 5:10 PM

[…] building their reputation, which has now mushroomed into an explosion of attention. Their new album Inhale/Exhale has crashed into the UK charts at number three, and the band has sold out virtually every date on […]