British rock has been enjoying a purple patch of late. Albums by Inglorious and Wayward Sons are picking up rave reviews, new music from SKAM, Mason Hill, The Bad Flowers and Stone Broken on the way. Massive Wagons signing to Earache, and The Brew signing to Napalm, all makes for good reading. Frontiers Music aren’t slow on the uptake either, adding the aforementioned Mason Hill to their impressive roster, as well as Wigan’s finest – Bigfoot. A partnership made in heaven, as Frontiers are perhaps the label best suited to the melodic hard rock leanings of Bigfoot. The thought of Tyketto meets the Eagles, or even Kansas, springs to mind once the layered vocal harmonies kick in. If that sounds strange, remember that Tyketto frontman Danny Vaughan also fronts one of the best Eagles tribute acts around – Ultimate Eagles.
The chugging riffs that kick off opener ‘Karma’ might scream Black Stone Cherry, but that disappears once vocalist Antony Ellis opens his mouth. Listen to his opening few lines and that is Ian Gillan minus the screams. The Deep Purple legend has a great knack of almost talking his lyrics and that’s what I hear on ‘Karma’, one of the heavier moments on the album with some pretty damn neat dual lead guitars from Sam Millar and Mick McCullagh. The very same lead guitars introduce ‘The Fear’, and give it an old-school NWOBHM vibe. This all changes though when the harmonies kick in, and Wigan is swapped for California… or anywhere warmer.
This is a fairly lengthy album, with 11 tracks, and only one of them under four minutes. Usually that’s a sign of quantity over quality, but in this case it’s very much the opposite. ‘Tell Me A Lie’ continues with the lush harmonies on a track tailor-made for an American audience. The same could be said for ‘Forever Alone’. With a title like that, you know it isn’t going to be one to get a circle pit going, but it is a perfect power ballad that simply soars with some astonishing playing, and again, the harmonies are bloody brilliant. Deep Purple springs to mind again on parts of ‘Prisoner Of War’, mainly the work of the rhythm team of bassist Matt Avery and drummer Tom Aspinall. It packs the same bounce that Paice and Glover bring to Purple, very classy, as are the echoes of ‘Perfect Strangers’ on ‘The Devil In Me’. Deep Purple still an influence after all these years. ‘I Dare You’ begins with a bit of a ‘Mr Brownstone’ vibe, the same kind of slithering, sleazy guitar feel. The song doesn’t explode into life as expected, instead it smoulders slowly with the emphasis on some neat guitar interplay. Bigfoot go with the old adage of saving the best for last, and ‘Yours’ is a little belter… well not so ‘little’ really, as it runs nearly nine minutes in length. A ballsy move indeed, going for such a lengthy track. People are used to disposable music these days, and anything more than a few minutes can turn the listener off. Thankfully ‘Yours’ is a real grower, staying at the same tempo throughout, and doesn’t go with the slow-fast-slow-fast pacing that many bands would fall back on. This gives the track (and the listener) time to breathe and spread out. The end result is a surprising track that gets better with each listen.
Strike another one up for the Brits. It’s almost like all these young bands got together and decided that they’d had enough of nonces waxing lyrical about the “good old days” of British rock, and set out to prove that Rock is indeed, very much alive and kicking… and you don’t even need to look that far to find it.
Available now on Frontiers Music. For a rundown of Bigfoot tour dates, head over to the official facebook page.
Review: Dave Stott