It was 2016 when the mighty Mos Generator released the excellent ‘Abyssinia’, an album that rode high in my top 10 of the year, and has been regularly spun ever since. To support that particular release the band pounded the road, including a run with a Scott Reagers fronted Saint Vitus that I caught in Glasgow and truly was a show for the ages. Now in 2018, that particular cycle is over, a new album has been recorded, and the band are about to again rack up the miles, this time with new release ‘Shadowlands’ added to their arsenal of sonic artillery.
From the the very first notes of the title track that opens the album, it is apparent that the life on the road has not in any way dulled the enthusiasm of the band; Messrs Booth and Garrett on bass and drums thunder along like a well oiled rhythm machine, providing the beats that carry the music along allowing Tony Reed to add his own layers of stunning guitar work and impassioned vocals. The bands obvious love of seventies hard rock permeates ‘Shadowlands’, follow up ‘The Destroyer’ sounding like a lost Led Zeppelin classic, albeit Mr Reed does not have the voice of Percy; what gives Mos Generator that feeling is the wall of guitars that is built around the central core of the song, from the galloping riffs to the soaring solo, it has a massive, almost overwhelming sound, yet is produced with such clarity that no one element drowns out the other, and everything is there to be heard and enjoyed. Shortly before seeing the band in October 2017 I had a brief online exchange with Mr Reed where I said I had no idea how he could recreate his sound live as surely a three piece could not reproduce the album on stage; he answered in the best way possible, by just blowing myself and the rest of the audience away with a combination of a more stripped back arrangement and the sort of guitar heroics that should see him hailed as one of rocks greatest axe-men. If the band had formed in the seventies rather than the two-thousands, they’d have been filling arenas, not the small clubs that I’ve been fortunate enough to see them in.
‘Drowning In Your Loving Cup’ follows on with their own cynical world wearied take on a rock ballad, a song that drips with vitriol rather than honey, before being replaced by the long and laid back goodness of ‘Stolen Ages’, a near perfect blend of classic British hard rock of the seventies and the laid back California sound of the same era. That very sensibility swaggers through ‘Gamma/Hydra’ complete with a solo that is surely equally influenced by both Jimmy Page and Joe Walsh. By comparison ‘The Blasting Concept’ thunders past with a near punk sneer in the vocals, the instruments being almost stripped back by comparison to other offerings on the album; this is probably the track that the band could deliver live without any need to change a thing, just a power trio at the top of their game. ‘Woman Song’ follows full of pomp and glory and by rights should be accompanied by a massive light rig as it blasts out into a packed stadium, whilst the whole is rounded off by the ‘The Wild And Gentle Dogs’, the mellow acoustic guitar opening somewhat at odds with the dark lyrics, the song quickly building in menace and complexity as each instrument joins the mix, the three members displaying to the full their mastery of their art as the track grows to a thunderous crescendo.
‘Shadowlands’ has been one of the hardest albums I’ve ever had to review; not because of any lack of quality, rather the complete opposite. It is so bloody good that I’ve repeatedly put it on play and sat down to type, only to be swept away by the music, forgetting that there’s a keyboard in front of me and a job to do. I’ve not a shadow of a doubt that this excellent release will be contending for the top spot in my review of the year, and should appear in many others as well. Long may this run of superlative releases by Mos Generator continue, and here’s to catching some of their magic live in the UK soon.