Friday, August 30, 2013

Black Russian Roulette
Right Kinda Wrong EP
Self-released, 2013
Full disclaimer: Black Russian Roulette’s lead guitarist is my nephew.  Actually — wait a second.  There’s probably not a reviewer in underground rock music who’s not written something for a friend’s band.  Why should it be a big deal if it’s for a family member?  I’m free to be honest. This EP is the biggest load of shit I’ve ever heard.

Well not really.

Political Russian roulette has become a heightened game in the last 18 months.  On the one hand Russia is apparently taking care of global hero Edward Snowden, and blocking invasion in Syria, even if it probably is primarily to upset the yanks. On the other hand, it’s locking up feminist punk bands and passing anti-gay laws in a fashion that would make the Ugandan government proud.  You never know which Russia you’re going to get.  Supposedly Putin is going to go for the holy trinity of bigotry soon by further aligning himself with neo-nazis and doing something overtly outrageous to the country’s black population.  Which brings us to this new band, from the political powerhouse of Leigh in Greater Manchester.

Black Russian Roulette are a heavy rock band who formed in summer 2012.  Their influences include 70s pioneers of hard music from England (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath), Ireland (Thin Lizzy), Australia (AC/DC) and the Moscow folk scene (possibly untrue).  The genres origins of blues and Americana are evident in much of the subject matter of the lyrics, with allusions to outrunning cops, tanks of gas and criminality (‘One in the Chamber,’ ‘Outlaw’).  Connecting to the driving stuff, there’s also a couple of tracks dealing with that ever popular rock theme of pursuing women but escaping domesticity (‘Holdin On,’ ‘She Devil’).  This all fits really well with a band so potently named as to incorporate both contained violence and drinking into their title.

Musically, there’s a lot of body here, with the drums and 3 guitars coming together in a way that never feels like too much is going on at once.  Noodling is used to complement rather than stand out egotistically.  This is evidenced well on the re-recorded version of ‘She Devil’ (previously released as a demo), featuring 40% more beef.  Matt Cooper’s vocals ride the wave of rock smoothly, even with that necessary rough edge due to (it seems) consuming too much smoke and booze in some Gulf Coast dive bar.  Right Kinda Wrong is a neat little package that flows well from the opening track of ‘Holdin On’ to ‘Shout,’ hitting that sweet spot between variety and cohesiveness.  If, like me, you’re into music with speed, you might like ‘One in the Chamber’ and the title track (a melodic number which is the shortest on the release by almost a minute).

Growing steadily in just a year, Black Russian Roulette are doing a lot of gigging in the North West in the next few months.  Even if hard rock isn’t normally your thing, you could do worse than getting this EP or getting your arse out of the house to go and see them.  Just don’t tell President Vlad that you’re having too much fun or he’ll probably come after you, shirtless, riding a horse.

Wild Stallions! 

You can hear the entire EP, and buy it (£5), at this page: