Cover - XII Boar - Beyond The Valley of The TriclopsWhiskey drenched vocals, Southern state groove and big ass riffs. These are three things you can say about fast rising UK stoner rock three piece XII Boar. Formed in 2010, the three piece have been riffing their way to the top, blending the thunder of Mötorhead with the gloom of Sabbath and the crunch of CoC. Growing in strength and prominence, with slots at Red Sun Festival and Desertfest and with one coming up at this year’s Bloodstock, it appears that the only thing holding the guys back from even greater heights could very well be themselves…. Or the giant three eyed monster in the valley known as the Triclops!

“Prologue” sets the scene with an epic sounding, dramatic spoken word over some tribal feel drum and chanting and the moment it ends, the metal begins. “Beyond The Valley” opens with a real groove laden bassline and moody lead which explodes into a filthy groove laden riff. Blending the likes of Clutch’s boogie style with the power and heaviness of Corrosion Of Conformity, it charges on. Hook laden musically and raw vocally, it is a great intro to the album and paints a good mental image of what this story entails. Headbanging riffs and piercing leads dominate the track and if this is a taste of things to come, it promises to be good.

“The Hustle” comes right in with a real flair filled intro. Wah laced solo sounds give way to a bitchin blues riff with some harmonica thrown in for good measure and then driving groove underneath ups the pace. With some feel of Orange Goblin to it, this raw rocker presses on. Meaty sounding verses and melodic choruses provide a good contrast and the bridge section really shines out with its fast paced melodic wah riff before slipping back to the thunderous chugs under a tricky and flair laden solo. Keeping the dirty blues feel up and slowing the pace, “Strange Kinda Lonesome” follows on. With an almost Lemmy styled vocal, this song screams Motorhead styled blues as it thunders away. With a great boogie feel, rich bassline and some great storytelling in the lyrics, it’s just sublime. Sit down, kick back and enjoy a drink or get on your feet and let the feel take control. It’s a highly infectious track and everything about it, from the simple crunchy blues tone to the rich bassline to the simple drums and bitchin’ solo just fits perfectly!

Bringing back the urgency and power, “El Mucho Grande” kicks it up a few gears. Fast paced and highly energetic, this real powerful rocker bursts forth with no fucks given and no prisoners taken. Viciously delivered lyrics with a pseudo NWOBHM feel in parts but coated in a filthy stoner haze, this is sure to ignite any live crowd. Even its slightly bluesy licks and break goes well with the more pushing pace of the track, and that rumbling bassline near the mid point booms out clearly. Towards the end it slows a little, bringing an ominous air and building feel which leads to a big sounding spot where a slow lead rings out over massive sounding chords which fades out nicely.

“Welcome To Your Doom” is another story setting track which has the same theatrical significance as the prolouge and as it transitions into “Penetrator” that raw and dirty sound returns. Advancing the story with a sense of urgency, bringing the hard rock and groove back with fury, the simple sounding track ignites the feel once again. Cutting riffs which thunder away with a thick low end and raw vocals lead the assault, cutting through all in its path much like the legendary blade. The post solo spot has a solid build feel with plenty of scope for crowd participation and the final chorus descends into a frenzied solo before some obligatory fret wankery to end it.

“Abyssal Lord” opens up with a dirty wah laden riff in that Orange Goblin feel before kicking up a gear into another storming fast rocker. Hook laden riffs make up the verse and the venomous chorus has a kick to it but the big moment is the stoner riff section which builds in presence before exploding to life again. The solos are wild, the riffs are hard hitting and the power all over the track just oozes out with minimal fuss. “Black And Blues” slows it down again, bringing back the harmonica, sweet sounding blues tone and that crunchy overdrive which rings out great. Raw and throaty vocals tell a gritty tale an musically it stays relatively restrained for the most part, speeding up a little and getting more of a kick in the later lead sections of the track in the final third.

“Jupiter Aligns” brings back that raw and fast paced rock once more. With a real driving riff and some slick lead work, it’s got a fantastic pulse to it, inviting the urge to dance, headbang or mosh along. Raw, heavy but with plenty of infectious hooks, it’s one of the best moments on the album as everything aligns to click perfectly into place. “Beggars Roost” shifts it back to a more moderate pace. Melodic, hard hitting and full of power, it booms out with a real doomy edge to it, letting the low end really resonate through the Sabbathian styled progressions and in turn, drawing out an ominous feel and atmosphere which hangs over the song like a hazy mist or fog. Bringing this all to a close, “Triclops” is the final track of the album. Once again, the dramatic narrative comes in over the samples and from there, a real intense pounding drum beat comes in. Joined by a thick, fuzzy wah laden riff which helps augment the build feel, you get the feeling that something big is coming. With a booming low end which thunders through, the rest of the band join in. Thundering away, the bass drives the song on with the steady drums, creating a massively heavy track. With the harsh vocals returning in a call and response kind of manner, it draws a close to the tale of the Triclops. Pounding, it marches on like a gigantic creature, crushing all in its path and hammering away one last time with the powerful riffs before a brief flurry of intense riffs and melodic lead work before the album finally draws to a close.

It’s an interesting album this. Whilst a few songs are directly related to the theme of the album’s title, in all, it’s a raw, dirty and gritty sounding slice of heavy rock with plenty of infectious hooks. Boogie riffs, bitchin blues, thunderous basslines and big sounding riffery all combine for a real solid release which does reasonably well. It just needs that extra edge in places to make it better.

(7/10 Fraggle)