Formed in 2008 in Leeds, England, the 4 piece PABH have wasted no time, frantically releasing 3 albums (this is their 3rd) and building a healthy following, as their radio play confirms.
Unusually, I was listening to TripleJ at work when the opening track V.E.N.O.M. from this album came on. Myself and my esteemed co-worker immediately pricked our ears up and gravitated towards the radio. Impressed, I picked up the album. I’ve previously had bad experiences buying an album after hearing only one song, so it was with some trepidation that I stuck the cd in the player, which seemed to be razzing at me with it’s tongue-like tray.
V.E.N.O.M. kicks things off and is a great, energetic rock song with some fine Sabbath-esque riffing and nice guitar melodies that reprise the vocal line.
WolfHand follows and features some muscular bass playing with some ambient guitar melodies, which then crashes into the epic chorus.
Singer and rhythm guitarist Tom Hudson, for the most part, is more of a screamer than a singer but manages some nice clean vocals as well.
Epic Myth, again features some rumbling bass from Robert Lee’s MusicMan and some heavy (but not in a metal way) riffing.
This band, clearly, are influenced by early hardcore punk, harder-to-define bands like Fugazi, and early metal like Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. They have successfully transmuted those influences into a great pop / hardcore hybrid. The record is definitely guitar heavy, with dominant riffs combined with softer licks, prevalent throughout. It’s not overly complex music but there are enough musical quirks to cause you to have the occasional “hang on, let me listen to that bit again!” moment.
There are some great riffs on the album, ranging from vaguely bluesy, to viciously hardcore, and producer Gil Norton should be commended for conjuring a crunchy, thick, and menacing guitar / bass tone throughout. The drums are not as high in the mix as a lot of recent releases, and this is frankly, refreshing. Like any well produced album, you can still hear them clearly without straining your ears. (For an interview with Rob Lee on how they achieved the sound in the studio, check out the link further down the page).
Like any good rock / pop album, the choruses are eminently singable and I found myself enthusiastically singing along and air guitaring / drumming with aplomb!
There is nothing close to a filler track on this album, with all songs chugging along with a rock’n’roll energy, sadly lacking from a lot of contemporary “rock”, Some Mothers in particular is a pacy punk number reminiscent of the finest moments from bands like NOFX or Rocket From The Crypt.
Despite the impressive consistency, there are definite standout tracks. The opener, V.EN.O.M. is great. Shake Off The Curse has a wild intensity, as does Epic Myth. WolfHand would have to be the closest thing to a softer song, but even it features screamed vocals and some damn heavy riffs, but there is a lovely understated, floating guitar line and some melodic singing in the chorus. Night Of The Living also has some softer moments, conjuring up memories of post-punk heroes like Television or Magazine.
The CD is packaged neatly enough with all the info you need (and you need the lyrics at times, trust me). Not that there’s anything particularly profound in there. Actually, most of the lyrics don’t seem to be about anything in particular, but they do have a poetic quality.
I’d love to see what kind of energy this band has in a live situation. From what I can ascertain, they often accidentally injure themselves on stage. A good indication they would be most entertaining!
So, if you like a good dose of hard rock, and are generally disillusioned with rock music circa 2012, you should definitely check out this band. In Tough Love they have managed to create a well produced, electrifying, concrete slab of an album.