So, gentle reader, what do Jack Gibson of thrash stalwarts Exodus and Steve Martin of Saturday Night Live and many other shows and movies fame have in common? No? Go on, guess, and I believe any answer that involves “a mutual ownership of millions of dollars and a string of mansions” is wrong, whilst “both are exceptionally skilled banjo players” is right. Well, “what the feck does that have to do with anything, let alone a review into a new sludge laden album?” Simply put, these most excellent noisy bastards have chosen to open their sonic assault upon your senses with a spiritually plucked banjo riff that could have escaped from ‘Deliverance’ via ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou?’ to lull all listeners into a false sense of security before the band lays around all comers with an immaculately crafted sludgy musical cosh. ‘Calling Down The Leaves’ promises a gentle country idyll before pulling away the soft rug of expectation from underfoot to bludgeon the listener with an ever escalating battery of riffs and drum beats. This band composed of members of assorted cult scene bands including the whispered in hallowed tones Acrimony pulls no punches after the initial lure, and batters the listener around the head with a soft mass of sludge.

‘I Am The Mountain’ trudges on with a melancholic beauty, somehow managing to transfer soul wrenching sorrow into a foot stomping anthem. How you manage to turn mourning into musical beauty, I do not know, but these sods somehow manage it. ‘With Willow’ follows on hard and heavy with the sort of riff so many Sabbath worshippers wish they could write in their dreams, whilst ‘Makers Mark’, like the titular whiskey is filled with gentle notes and nuances that match the the restrained combination of subtle bass, ever evolving guitar, drums that grow from out of ephemeral beats into a full on sonic battering and vocals that have the sort of anthemic delivery to have appreciative crowds chanting along. This is truly a number tailor made to be the centre of a live show.

Nothing on this release fails to deliver, and deliver in spades, and as a mission statement to have necks blasting to the beat, it’s hard to imagine a better first offering. Indeed album closer ‘Of Sky And Land’ arguably ups the challenge with a bestial“harmony” (I’m sorry, I don’t know how else to describe this Hell originated growl) that whilst it may tend to make traditionalists like me grate their teeth will undoubtedly having many folks clicking and adding. Me, I just want to see if this excellence can be reproduced live.

(8/10 Spenny)