Released in 2013, the debut album from Beasto Blanco, ‘Live Fast Die Loud’, made an instant impression on anyone who cranked it up. Like a grande shot of the most potent coffee first thing in the morning, or when you’re in the shower and some bastard runs a tap, it was, and still is, an aural kick to the jigglies. Fast, greasy rock n’ roll played at a wicked pace by long time Alice Cooper bassist, and right hand man, Chuck Garric. Also along for the ride, Calico Cooper. Alice’s daughter proves on a nightly basis that she inherited her father’s flair for theatrics, and has formed a real bond with Garric. The chemistry between them is genuine and impossible to miss.
Be careful in thinking that Beasto Blanco is merely a side project, as this is without any doubt, a band… and what a band at that. Guitarist Chris Latham (Brother Latham to anyone that asks) is mesmeric to watch as he strangles his Gibson to within an inch of it’s life, and his playing on this, the sophomore effort, is sublime. As well as being two of the hairiest, scariest-looking dudes that ever graced a stage, bassist Jan LeGrow, and drummer Tim Husung, bring the driving beats and pounding rhythms on a monstrous scale. Damn, they are also bloody nice chaps too. Mix all of these parts in with Garric switching from four to six strings, as well as Cooper providing some real menace, and you have a living, breathing band. A band that, on this album, has musically stretched its wings and provided some genuinely startling moments.
The grit and the speed from the debut album is still present in abundance. Opener, ‘Buried Angels’, has a classic White-Zombie-led-by-Lemmy vibe about it. Garric has a old-school rasp about his vocals, and his mid song howl is mind blowing, as is Latham’s solo on three minutes but… hold the phones… is that a cowbell I hear?… I got a fever! ‘Grind’ begins with a thumping drum beat from Husung, and Garric spits out one of the best opening lines ever..”I may not have been born with a crown on my head, but mom gave me muscles and knuckles instead”. Hell, yeah! The song then explodes into life with an almost “industrial” rhythm, complete with what sounds like a hammer pounding away on metal.
One of the pleasing aspects on the album is way more vocals from Calico. One such example is the stunning cover of ‘Feed My Frankenstein’. Beasto Blanco have taken one of Alice Cooper’s most beloved tracks of the last few decades and knocked it on its ass. Beginning with an acoustic intro from Latham, it builds into a smouldering few minutes of pure unadulterated rawk for a new generation. Calico handles the verses with her sultry, almost spoken word, vocals that breathe new life into a slice of Cooper history. She also takes lead vocals on ‘Machine Girl’ which spews forth into the world like a Tarantino soundtrack speeding out of it’s skull, apt description considering that Beasto Blanco would be the ideal house band for The Titty Twister bar, open From Dusk Till Dawn, if you are ever in the area?
The main crux of the album, I feel, is the trilogy that forms mid album. ‘Dark Matter’ begins with a good old fashioned Moog synthesizer playing over Garric’s effects-laden vocals, atmospheric and dark as hell. Just as you think the song is beginning to fade out, Beasto Blanco come back, and the listener’s mind is blown, the searing solo from Latham having the same effect as Dave Gilmour’s did on ‘Comfortably Numb’. Having not yet recovered fully from this moment, the volume is hiked up, and Bad Santa himself is whispering into my ear….”The dark is good for hunting…”. ‘Sadhana’ is a short, but stunning, spoken word piece from Billy Bob Thornton from an original poem written by Chuck’s wife Lindsay. Listen to it on headphones, and it is very unnerving. Then it’s straight into ‘I Rise’, and we’re back on familiar territory with Beasto Blanco rattling along at breakneck speed. Individually, three very different moments, but collectively, they flow seamlessly into one another. From here on in it’s rock and fucking roll with a huge beaming smile on everyone’s face as ‘Honey’, ‘Blind Drive’, and the foot stomping ‘Damnation’ round the album off in fine style.
My end of year top five albums list was complete until Beasto Blanco came roaring out of the left field with a genuine, totally surprising album that simply refuses to leave my mindset. Available now through Rat Pak Records
Review: Dave Stott