Over the years I’ve seen, surprisingly enough, one hell of a lot of bands live; what else would you expect from a fifty year old whose first concert of choice was Motörhead in 1984? Amongst those many shows, I’ve even caught Gothenburg’s own Bombus twice on their sadly all too rare forays into the UK. The first, a few years ago, was as a four piece opening for the mighty Monster Magnet, and I was suitably impressed enough to buy their then current CD ‘The Poet and the Parrot’ at their merch stand. Jump forward a few years, and they were opening in Glasgow for Graveyard, having added a third guitarist to the line up, and played a hell of a good set. Naturally enough, I gravitated to the merch stand to congratulate the band and splash some cash, and after buying a trucker cap from them (at the writing of this review still yet to be worn; I have piles of unworn tour wear), and was told the new album would be out later this year. Well, time has moved on, and ‘Vulture Culture’ has landed.
From the off with the massive sound of ‘A Ladder – Not a Shovel’ the addition of a third guitar to line up is both obvious and necessary, the dense layered sound needing that extra player to recreate the album live. Think of the famous twin guitar attack of classic Thin Lizzy, a band that so obviously influences Bombus with their hard rock feel, but with an even thicker sound; solos duel against each other whilst the riff continued unabated, and when they all combine with the artillery barrage of the bass and drums the band create a sound guaranteed to have even the most static and reticent of heads banging.
The heavy goodness continues unabated into ‘(You Are All Just) Human Beings’, the shared vocals of Matte and Feffe being every bit as hard hitting as the music, whilst a bit of a Prog sound creeps in with their lead single ‘Mama’ hints of ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ threading through with the kick against parental authority and the school ground chant of children backing up the chorus and closing out the track. The lighter side of ‘Bombus’ is highlighted in ‘It’s All Over’, showing the band is not just an all-out riff machine, it having the initial feel of a massive rock ballad, but managing not to fall into that bloated territory by anchoring itself in darkly delivered and embittered lyrics of self-loathing and insecurity rather than the cheesy onanistic lovefest such music normally accompanies when delivered by the likes of a bouffant and bleached Bon Jovi.
The heaviness returns with the Lemmyesque gut punch of ‘In The Shadows’, itself followed by the bombast of ‘We Lost a Lot of Blood Today’, all before the title track swaggers in with its snarling contempt for the hedonistic and self-obsessed world the band find themselves a part of. Fortunately not all is negative and nihilistic, and even the rightful cynicism of the lyrics of album closer ‘Feeling Is Believing’ is set to a sound track loaded with infectious beats and rhythms to have feet stomping and fists pumping.
Bombus is not some preachy political band, but unlike the slew of shallow self-referential and disposable acts that fill the popular charts, they are willing to reflect the darker worries and concerns of the world we live in. However, rather than doing so to be a deliberate downer, they seem to do so with a simple honesty, and deliver their feelings with music that can only help offer hope and lift the spirit with its visceral tempos. Having seen them produce this music recently live as a support act, I can only hope to catch them as a headliner with a full set, so how about showing the band some love and spending some cash on them? You should not be disappointed.