Over the last 5 years or so Blind River have forged a reputation as one of the finest live bands on the emerging rock circuit, consistently blowing the roof off every venue they play. From tiny sweat boxes to big festivals, their powerful performances never fail to impress. And yet their recorded output – two albums which are packed to the rafters with certified bangers – remain curiously underappreciated.
Bones for the Skeleton Thief is their latest attempt to bottle the live lightning, and, in that respect, it is a roaring success. Recorded in one take over two days, it as close to a live performance as you’ll ever hear on a studio album. Whilst their previous albums have smoothed out some of the rough edges, here they embrace the rawness on 10 tracks of intense, heavy rock that all sound like they’d slot seamlessly into the band’s live set. The band appear to have followed the Motörhead ethos of everything louder than everything else, and in general they don’t stray too far from the path of fantastically filthy rock and roll but that doesn’t mean there is no room for nuance. The rhythm section has a real groove throughout the record, no doubt helped by playing as a band, and in amongst the hard rock maelstrom are southern-fried guitar licks, and even the odd laid-back, almost psychedelic riff. Cutting through it all though, is singer Harry Armstrong’s lived-in, impassioned vocals, a bellow of existential rage standing strong against the ravages of life.
This is a primal, feral beast of an album, and Blind River are a band that refuse to be tamed. And although it perhaps lacks some of the standout moments of their previous work, theirs is a timeless sound; drop them into any of the last five decades and they’d both fit in perfectly and stand out completely. They play rock and roll, but they play it with a metal edge and a punk attitude, they are authentic and raw, unsanitised and thrillingly intense. And perhaps this goes some way to explaining their underdog status, because at no point does it sound like Blind River are trying to play music for any kind of demographic or to align with any kind of scene or style. Time will pass, music fads will come and go, and Blind River will keep on playing hard, heavy rock and roll, whether you like it or not.