Five-year old French stoner quartet Hypnotic Drive have been banging out the power grooves since 2012. Think Clutch, Karma To Burn, Red Fang and you’ll get the picture. They don’t hold back and they make no excuses.

Pushing the limiter from the outset, “Five Regrets” is a pure blaster with a bolshy, driven groove with a dirty buzzsaw for a guitar. It’s the thunderous bassline that really sells it though. It rapidly leads through to a spot of Sabbathian doom as the grimy “Voodoo Witch” lays down and there’s some really original riffwork that marks it out as the star of the show.

Whilst rock n’ roll powers this album from beginning to end there’s some fist-throwing segues lurking throughout that will have you bouncing off the walls. Check out the crushing drum riot lurking behind the vast cabs on “The Ride” and the massive chug-fest that follows it. Or the pure balls-out riff-rumble upon which “Subway Preacher” rests.

In the main, this is riotous fun, but there’s a couple of punkish oddities in the middle that don’t quite fly – the viciously dark and discordant menace of “Crossroads” sits a little uneasily and the Di’Anno-era Maiden-esque naivity of “Darkened White” is incredibly messy and protracted with grinding timings and odd riff combinations.

Ultimately, the main thing that lets this all down though is the brittle nature of the recording. To really sell it, it needs less guts and more subtlety up top. That vocal is seriously in danger of being drowned out. It’s not a million miles from what you’d expect entering the tight confines of a backstreet boozer and being flattened against the wall whilst your eardrums try to pick their way around the constant pounding at your chest. Needless to say, if you have the opportunity you’ll need to wind back the subwoofer when you listen. Do that, and you’ll love the way Hypnotic Drive go at their music with such wanton abandon.

(6.5/10 John Skibeat)