…and now for something completely different.
I read the blurb from the list which Thee Ed sends us reviewers, and there was a lot there to make this crew stand out for me – name-checking Queen, Motorhead and Judas Priest. A female vocalist, and an Australian Psychedelic Rock band that wanted to reference music from 1968-1978.
O.K. I was intrigued.
The band rejoice in the following names: Imperial Priestess Screaming Loz Sutch (vocals), Inverted Crucifox (guitars), Search and DesTroy (guitars), Jaytanic Ritual (bass) and Mr Styx (drums). The accompanying band photos show, especially for Loz, some impressive stage costume design, and – with the full retail release of the album – you get a graphic novel designed by Inverted Crucifox. All of this is all very good, but what of the music? Well, given that this is the bands fourth album since 2013, it would appear that they’re not just some flash in the pans.
Opener “Can you dig?” raised my eyebrows straight away, given that the guitar tone with its frazzled, ragged edge brought to mind Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky”, while the strains of early AC/DC rock and spacey noise effects drifted in the background while Loz belted out the main vocals, giving the whole shebang a too-cool-for-school vibe.
Make no bones about it, “Memoirs of a Rat Queen” is a rock album rather than a straight out and out heavy metal album, but there’s enough of a cross over to be of interest to those of us with more of a heavy inclination. “Rat Queen”, with the multiple vocal harmonies layered over each other and the catchy cow bell may well sound like Queen having filthy adult-time with Grand Funk, but it has a chorus so bloody dumb and so bloody catchy that you just won’t care. You see, “Memoirs of a Rat Queen” is daft: but it’s daft and entertaining. So, when “I’ll make a man out of you” starts like an unholy hybrid of Toto’s Africa and Girlschool, you’ll know that it doesn’t make much sense, but you’ll tell yourself it’s ok. You may be sat there in your illegibly be-fonted black metal T-shirt scowling in the subterranean gloom of your parents basement, but when the chorus licks hit, you’ll be sporting a big, fat grin. How does it work? It works because: a) the band appear to be having a bloody good time; b) they’ve written music they want to hear; c) it’s daft by accident (and not by design); and most importantly d) it’s really just very well constructed.
Yes, there are little musical references peppered throughout the eight tracks, and it’s not always an even listen. That being said, I listen to Planet Rock on the radio these days in-between Radio 4 and albums, and there are a whole lot of worse bands that get heavier airplay than this crew. It’s just the right side of annoying, but it’s a whole lot of fun, and sometimes, isn’t that just what you want?
(7/10 Chris Davison)