After playing brutal death and grind metal for years, things could get a bit of the same at times. In Carcass' wake, legendary guitarist Bill Steer decided to go down the blues and hard rock path and the result is Firebird. Since 1999, Firebird has released four albums: Firebird, Deluxe, No 3 and Hot Wings. Their latest release, Grand Union delivers elements of blues and 70's rock into one enjoyable listening experience.
Grand Union has a very laid-back vibe, you can tell these guys love what they do, this album looks back to the days when bell-bottoms were the fashion and vinyl was still the prominent source to listen to music. You can almost smell the substances coming out of the speakers and hear the needle in the groove. Burning in at the start of the album, Blue Flame is the perfect scene setter with it's classic riffage and tasty lead work, your head will be banging and your horns risen.
There are plenty hard rocking tracks on here such as Lonely Road, the swampy Release Me, the Hammond Organ-driven See The Light. A track that deserves a standout mention is the harmonica infused bluesy Worried Mind, this song is such a foot tapper, it really gets into the groove and keeps on truckin'. The wonderfully lush track Caledonia closes the album with it's island like vibe.
This is a classic power trio delivering 70's style rock, stoner and blues in the vein of classic bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Cream, frontman and guitarist Bill Steer delivers a solid performance with his vocal style which reminds me of a mix between Ozzy and Robert Plant: he is not the best vocalist in the world but his vocals fit what Firebird aim to achieve. Guitarists will love the riffs on this album, Steer's playing is free flowing, funky, his slide guitar work is well executed, over all Bill's approach reminds me of classic guitarists like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Uli Jon Roth and blues legends like BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The rhythm section drives this album, bassist Smok Smoczkiewicz keeps the low end together with his thick bass tone and driving bass lines; and drummer Ludwig Witt (also of the awesome Spiritual Beggars) throws down like a junior John Bonham.
Grand Union is a great album to relax and chill out to, Carcass fans may find it a bit much to wrap their head around, but if Zeppelin and Sabbath get your groove on, this is the album for you.
Firebird's Grand Union is out now on Rise Above/Riot.