Motherload - Black and Blue (Fully Loaded)

Classic stuff...
Release Date: 
16 Jun 2013 - 11:30pm

High Wycombe outfit Black and Blue come equipped with a press release that screams the band is here to ‘bridge the gap between  classic rock and contemporary metal!’ and ya know what? I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Actually I could, because apart from a bit of strategically placed organ here, and a shard of Aerosmith there (actually more than a shard – third track One Man Army is a dead ringer for The Aeromen’s take on the Beatles standard Come Together), Black and Blue simply fuses the classic metal strut of Slave to the Grind-era Skid Row and a whole heap of Motorhead with the gigantic, no messing riffage so common in much of what’s happening in the world of metal in 2013; It’s a cunning synthesis, but ideas only take you so far. Luckily, it’s Motherload’s execution of said ideas that puts them in a different post code to most of the opposition currently doing the rounds.

Opener Nothing is a crushing statement of intent, all greasy riffola and nasty sentiment courtesy of a suitably hateful vocal from vocalist Tom, but Motherload really light the blue touch paper on next song We Are the Authority. 'This is', as Chris Tarrant used to bellow on Saturday Morning ‘kids’ show Tiswas, 'what they want'. Powering along at a goodly clip, it really does bring the best of two different eras of metal crashing into one another in a delirious, sprawling festival of noise. Great riffing, nasty soloing, this is what used to get us going in rock discos the world over circa 1991, and it’s bloody great to hear a young band with such a good handle on what can make heavy music so genuinely exciting. If you ain’t bouncing off the walls with glee during the song’s glorious HEY! denouement there’s a good chance that you are listening to this record by mistake…

One Man Army I’ve already told you about, and for me it’s the edgy Derry Pope that gets thing back on track. Much less derivative than One Man Army, it’s a slithering, truculent beast with some more great gang vocals and another super catchy chorus of the kind I was sure had gone out of fashion years ago – thank the maker nobody told Motherload… The track rounds out on a chugging riff that is pure classic Manowar circa Into Glory Ride before axepert Oz gives it some stick with another well thought-out and tremendously catchy solo.  It really can’t be said too often, so I’m going to say it again now – this is top drawer stuff.

Spitfire ups the pace again, a tasty melange of jagged riff mayhem and spiteful vocalising, the band taking the opportunity to pour yet more ‘whoa whoas’ into the mix come chorus time. It’s giddy, it’s infectious, it’s unstoppable. It’s what melodic heavy metal should sound like in 2013. And if it was within my remit to do so, I’d offer a full refund on this review if you don’t agree with what I’m saying once you’ve heard this beast of an album. And you will hear it, of that I’m sure.

But hold up, if that sounded like a closing summary to the review, I’m being a bit premature. The bugger’s only half over, meaning you the listening public have got another five chunky nuggets of rock wholesomeness to get your teeth into – in fact, as this is classic metal we’re talking about, that’s the equivalent of On and On being the start of side two… so, let the fun commence!

On and On is slightly more stately than what’s gone before, being slower and more considered-sounding, though that certainly doesn’t mean the band has sacrificed any heaviness. And guess what – it’s got another insidious refrain that’s gonna lodge itself between your ever-willing earlobes for a long while to come. After a clever abrupt ending, we pitch headlong into the swaggering riff worship of Deeper, another straight ahead rocker with an irresistible, snake hipped riff and you guessed it, another big, singalong chorus – try not to sing along. You won’t be able to.

Amazingly, this being the kind of album it is, Motherload make us wait until track eight before offering us some classic, dustcoated cowboy metal, but when they do, it’s worth the wait – slide guitars, a talk box, some stuttering volume pot fiddling during the verse, it’s all present and correct on the glorious Beg For It, yet it doesn’t sound like pastiche, homage or lack of ideas – it just sounds right. 

As does  the closing one-two combination of Hang Your Head and Death Rattle; the former another mid-paced headbanger with yet another tasty solo, the latter a suitably slow-building bruiser in the best tradition of album closers that will, and I have absolutely no doubt in saying this, have  your finger hovering over the ‘replay’ button to start the whole glorious process of listening to Black and Blue over again. It’s that kind of album, and Motherload would appear to be the kind of band that has the world at its feet if it can keep up this level of quality second time around. But for now, it’s really up to you to get in at ground floor level and say you were there from the start of what could be a very wild ride indeed. This is absolutely essential listening if classic metal is your thing, and even if it isn’t, give this a go anyway – you will be pleasantly surprised.