Stubb are a relatively recent musical discovery for me, having been pointed in the London based power trio’s direction by one of the other reviewers here. The three piece take the tried and tested power trio formula and keeping in line with the tradition of the 60’s and 70’s, play a hard rocking brand of blues rock. The only difference is, it is fuzzed out to the limits, laced with a healthy dose of stoner feel and hypnotic psychedelic melodies and has a bit more bite and balls to it. Having had great success with their debut release ‘Under a Spell’, let’s see if the follow up keeps us as entranced as we were last year.
The first two tracks “Cry of the Ocean Part 1” and “Part 2” could actually be one song if you didn’t catch the track number clicking over or notice the change in title. Opening with the sound of waves rolling on the shore, a simple, relaxing melody plays which has a slight hypnotic feel to it. The dreamy-sounding vocals keep that mesmerising sound up and it’s a really laid back opening to the album. Littered with tasty blues styled solo’s and some more lively bits laced with fuzzed out instruments, it’s a great opener and the seamless transition into the more upbeat sounding “part 2” is brilliant. The guitar work is a joy to listen to with the little blues fills between the chords, delivered with flair and style and the lead work is just as impressive as in part 1. These two tracks are a great way to test the waters before taking a dip into the rest of the album!
“Heavy Blue Sky” keeps the lightly distorted sound as it opens up with a bluesy vibe to it. The trademark wailing big string bends to introduce the solo cry out brilliantly in an almost SRV manner and the technique is flawless. The slow pace of the song mixed with the cleanly sung vocals works a treat. The chorus has an interesting guitar/bass trade-off riff over a subtle drum roll which teases at something exploding to life, but its only on the chorus just after halfway through the song where this explosion happens – another delightful sounding blues solo. It’s a fantastic moment and you’ll want to keep backtracking just to hear it again, and again.
“Sail Forever” is heavier than the previous three tracks. Opening up with a very Black Sabbath sounding riff, this track has more of a hard rock edge than blues edge to it, and it breaks the pace of the album up nicely. Vocally it has a bit more bite to it and it’s got a great headbanging groove in the verse. Just before the mid-point of the song, it picks up the pace a little and the drums really shine. Dictating the feel of the guitar solo with steady measured patterns with rapid fills thrown in just to spice it up, it gives the song a sense of urgency before pulling it back to the Sabbath style sections pace before it eventually slows down for the ending which descends into some controlled feedback. “Heartbreaker” opens up with an acoustic guitar and some morose sounding vocals, giving it a darker edge to the rest of the album. After the intro, it picks up, with a bright, melodic sounding finger picking section but the glum vocals still remain, adding a brilliant contrast and helping the overall delivery of the song. Even on the acoustic, the lead work is sublime, and when the final minute of the song approaches, the pace picks up and the slide guitar style is introduced. It livens up the mood and the song and it’s a fantastic way to end the track.
“Devils Brew” opens with some classic rock styled “woo-ooh” vocals over the drums to begin with, before the guitar joins in with it, harmonizing at first before descending into an almost Hendrix-like fuzzed out riff full of little fills and thick chords. The vocals have more attitude to them and it really fits the whole vibe of the song. The solo is delivered with that Hendrix-like flair, full of twisting runs and expression-filled bends coated with a healthy dose of the classic wah pedal, really making the guitar sing when it counts. “Snake Eyes” has some Hammond organ backing to it, adding a new dimension to the sound, giving it an almost spooky feel at times in that BOC way. The main part of the song kicks in with some big stomp-like grooves and really awkward sounding chords just stabbed out. The chorus is a little more melodic in its delivery and vocally, it’s pretty similar to BOC in that dramatic sounding way at times. Halfway through the sound changes to a more rock friendly one. The drums get harder and what follows is a huge instrumental section filled with big, simple riffs and some nice lead work which ends the song on a high.
“You’ll Never Know” is the closing track of the album and it keeps up the hard rock sound and feel from the previous track. With a big riff, decent groove and a teasing solo to start it off, this one has a very stoner rock feel to it. Like the previous tracks, it’s got some great lead sections, tight rhythm work and some big basslines which just keep it all moving on. As the song hits the halfway mark, it starts to become more chaotic with more fuzz and some wild leadwork, slipping in and out of tune adding to the trippy like atmosphere it creates before it finally ends with some controlled feedback, bringing the album to a close.
“Cry of the Ocean” is a solid album from start to finish. It’s got a few different sounds on it, but the one constant is just how captivating this album really is. It was hard to write this review because all I wanted to do was keep listening to it over and over. Expect to see this album in many top 10 of the year lists and don’t be too surprised if it actually tops them!