I first heard about this English band when I was surfing iTunes. It happened to come up in the suggested new music column and as I usually do with suggested music, I checked them out on Youtube. After the initial viewing of their music videos, I realized that this band meant business. Like a pocket-sized Atomic bomb, this band sneaks up on you and then blows you away. Needless to say, my expectations were surpassed.
The debut album “The King of Conflict” starts with my new favorite song, “Dead Man’s Shoes.” The beginning of the song starts with a simple guitar riff, and is then joined by a garage-band-drum-set sound. Then, like a professional switch was flipped, the sound changes into a blasting rock song that you can’t help but to be impressed by. Then once I heard Ally Dickaty’s first growl, I was immediately reminded of the band Wolfmother, with how dirty the sound was, but how clean it came off. However, with that being said Ally’s voice was reminiscent of Kurt Cobain’s in how he could do a grungy growl, but also have the vocal ability to serenade.
The next song, “Portrait of Red,” starts with a booming two guitar part. One guitar plays a gentle back-and-forth riff, where another slams on chords all while Ally laments over the track. Then a gentle soft rock pre-chorus eases the listener into a false sense of security, and then the chorus puts the pedal to the metal, with Ally showing what his grunge pipes can do. The rest of the song keeps you hooked with either some crazy guitar chops or a sweet funky breakdown, leading to a energetic solo.
The third song on the album, “Just a Ride,” starts off hard with a rocking riff, then cuts out to only Ally’s vocals and guitar. Eventually the band kicks back in and this band shows just how well they can take a simple riff and make it classy. My favorite part of the song is the chorus when Ally is singing and the rest of the band is singing backing vocals. It sounds like a rock and roll opera from heaven (or should I say, from hell).
The fourth song, “Out of Mind,” starts out with a riff strikingly similar to Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon,” but eventually the band turns the riff into a move-your-body true rock song. This song really shows off Ally’s guitar chops, with a shredding solo that Slash may even raise an eyebrow over.
The next song, “Bang Bang Bang,” starts out like a funeral dirge, with a few minor chords leading the charge and a “Hells Bells” back ground riff setting the tone. Then after a few dark lyrics, the drums and guitar kick up into a booming riff and beat. Then comes the chorus, which seems to have come from an angsty John Lee Hooker who loved Metallica.
The song, “Lost Weekend,” starts with something that has barely been heard in the previous songs, a bass riff. The mood is set by it, and also seems to be a new age pop song, but then when the beat hits, the tone changes to a 90′s throwback punk rock song, complete with teenage angst. It sounds like a summer jam from the 90′s, full of angst but sounding somewhat optimistic.
Up next is the song “Running for my Life,” and again the song starts with a bass riff and a guitar, but its different now because the song seems to be preparing for something. Then about 50 seconds in the listener finds out what the song was preparing for. A Wolfmother-esque riff hits the speakers and creates mayhem with the listener’s brain. Be warned, head banging will commence while listening to this song.
Following this song is “Dressed to Kill,” a lament about a girl who is a devil in disguise. The guitar part are soft rock until the vocals pick up, then the distortion kicks in and a Billy Talent-esque rock song commences. Leading and backing vocals harmonize, crazy delicious guitar parts, and simple but pounding drums show that a 3 man band can do work.
Following is the song “My Little Girl,” a song that takes the blues and makes them even more interesting. Complete with a call and return vocal and guitar part that would have made Stevie Ray Vaughan jealous.
The next song “Takin’ The Blame” starts with a funky riff, that is in itself, very original. After the riff and vocals play for a while and the build up takes place, the chorus comes in. The song is very catching, but not so catchy that I would get sick of it after the fifth listen. The song remains simple, yet dynamic, which is also characteristic of the whole album.
“You’ve Got Your Money, I’ve Got My Soul,” is the next song and it starts in a more bluesy way that most of the other songs. A solid guitar chord progression allows the song to enter a deeper area during the chorus, with a slightly minor chord changing the whole dynamic of the song. The middle of the song has a really cool part where Ally sings along to the chords he is playing, in a breakdown format, but with better vocals.
The last song on the album is, “Ends Don’t Mend,” and it is a great finale song, and is the only song longer then 5 minutes. After listening to the whole album, which consisted of under 5 minute songs, this is an interesting break in the chain. The song starts as a build up, with a palm-muted guitar part, eventually entering a normal guitar progression with a blues twang to it. The song has a chorus characteristic of the rest of the album, but when the ending comes and a soft guitar part gently tricks the listener into thinking the song is over, an insane shredding solo, that even Jimmy Page would tip a hat to, blasts out of the speakers with the volume of rock turned up to eleven.
BONUS: A secret song that I have no clue what is called plays after “Ends Don’t Mend” is over. This is awesome and something I don’t really see anymore in newer CDs, thus making this album dynamic and one of my new favorites. This song is almost a love song/lullaby, consisting of Ally’s voice and slightly distorted, finger-picked guitar. It sounds like a song they would play at an encore for a show and is a very cool way to end the album.
Overall, this album is friggin’ awesome. I was never bored throughout the entire album, which is something that gives me hope for the future of music. Most CDs I buy nowadays have some sort of unneeded fat that needed to be trimmed before the album was published. However, as a music lover, I could tell that The Virginmarys really care about their music due to the amount of work, energy, and originality they put into their music.