Retro rock is being churned out like seaside rock in a sweetie factory in mainland Europe these days. It just depends whether Sabbath or Jefferson Airplane is written through the middle. It either floats your tie dyed boat or it doesn’t. If it does then the latest offering from Amsterdam’s Death Valley may well nestle your vessel on a musical voyage.
Featuring Oeds Beydals (ex The Devils Blood) and Uno Bruniusson (In Solitude) Superbia is a mix of stoner raunch a la The Atomic Bitchwax and glimpses of 90’s alternative rock that bring to mind Jane’s Addiction and even Smashing Pumpkins. The latter influences are subtle but undoubtedly there from twinkling intros to sweeping choruses mixing with the reefer soaked riffs and wine stains to create a heady concoction for rockers and psychonauts alike.
Opener Daemon has a gothic tinge to it with an almost sombre tone – an unusual choice for track one but it chugs along nicely only spoiled by cod demonic effects that I thought disappeared in 1986 and then a proggy section! Still my curiosity is certainly pricked enough to keep on keeping on – and I am glad I did.
“The Chain” is a desert boogie that rivals recent releases by TAB and Fu Manchu in its groove whilst Feeding the Lions’ adds some psychedelia into the mix with a whirling late sixties proto metal intro that transcends into funky wig out territory like many of the current crop of Euro bands (Vintage Caravan , Kadavar et al) . Towards the end is where the Perry Farrell stylings creep into the vocal. For this writer, in a world of Ozzy clones it is nice to hear summat else coming through. Headlights in the Dark which follows is a raunch and roll Jane’s style rocker. Nice bit of 12 bar blues in there – bit Hellacopters as well. Opens things up nicely and offers further texture and spirit.
Shake The Coil is a moody wine soaked rocker that drips with patchouli, purple scarves and smeared mascara whilst Murder Your Dreams is as Alice Copper inspired as it sounds.
Pilgrim takes it back to the lava lamps and head shops whilst still maintaining a gutsy guitar line. There is a definite Scandinavian vibe to these Dutch chaps song-writing. This is definitely more European than it is desert born. The basslines sometimes meander into MC5 territory as on Sewage but the overall feel to Superbia is one of dirty yet glamorous rock and roll. The rulebook isn’t being torn up yet neither is this just yet another suede clad blast from the past destined for a late night slot at the Dev during Desertfes . The press release that accompanies this release likens Death Valley to Poison Idea and the MC5. I think their PR machine should be looking to this side of the Atlantic for its comparisons. There is certainly plenty of attitude and groove throughout the album and it contains a fair few tracks that stand out and will bear repeat listens throughout the year. No mean feat for a retro sound in a throwaway MP3 culture.
(6.5/10 Matt Mason)