New outfit Samarkind are made up of multiple nationalities that I would not like to get into a drinking contest with. Historically, the Irish duo of vocalist David Paul Byrne and Mark Dempsey on bass, South African born drummer Marius Appelgryn, and Polish guitarist Michal Kulbaka should be able to drink anyone under the table, then put them over their shoulders and carry them home. Three friendly, but fiery, nations combining to produce a sound that harks back to another time, but a sound that could be also be described as fresh and modern. Thanks to acts like Rival Sons and The Temperance Movement, 70’s inspired rock is very much back in focus. It never really went away, to be honest, it just sounds so much bigger these days. Listen to ‘Fire And Blood’ from this, the eponymous debut album from a band making the good folks at Classic Rock and Planet Rock sit up and pay attention. You might hear bits of Glenn Hughes era Deep Purple here, you might pick up parts of Zeppelin there, but mix them up with some current day production marvels, and you have a bonafide classic in-waiting. When music is this good, who cares what decade it was inspired by?
Running time on ‘Samarkind’ barely passes the half hour mark, but the eight tracks featured are of the highest quality. The phrase “all killer no filler” seems to have been coined just for this album. Opening with the heady mix of Americana and Delta Blues on ‘Black Rain’ (before settling into a speeding train drum beat), the quality never lets up until the last strains of ‘Blue Mountain’ fade out. The guitar work from Kulbaka is both fierce and heartfelt throughout. A new guitar hero might just have been unearthed. His playing on the opener changes from subtle licks to ferocious lead breaks in the blink of an eye. Musically, if you are a fan of bands like Purple, Zeppelin, Free, Bad Company, Whitesnake… Christ, the list is endless, you will love Samarkind. The groove on ‘Sun Stroke Heart’ is ridiculous. A modern day intro that crushes before settling down into the finest moment that Glenn Hughes never had. ‘Skinny Rivers’ is a light-hearted romp, with some tasty backing vocals that help set the scene. ‘Good Man Call’ is darker, and slows things down a notch with a towering vocal performance from Byrne. The longest track on the album, it’s atmospheric with some sublime guitar work. ‘Thru That Door’ is harder, with more of a traditional blues-rock vibe and leads perfectly into the aforementioned ‘Fire And Blood’. The stand out track of the eight, the change from blues to more of a foot-stomping rock feel is bloody marvellous. The guitar solo? Blackmore-esque baby, Blackmore-esque. Closely following it into the runner up spot is ‘Touch Stone Man’, a glorious acoustic-led romp that evokes the Zeppelin classic ‘Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp’. The slide guitar work is simply dazzling, and I’ll bet my left nut that this is a show stopper live. ‘Blue Mountain’ closes out the album. It begins slowly, then takes its foot off the brake midway through with some classic slow-fast-slow action. Epic sounding, and the perfect way to end the album.
An album that doesn’t overstay its welcome, ‘Samarkind’ gets in, slaps you about a bit, then gets straight back out again.
Available November 24th. More details on the official Samarkind Facebook
Review: Dave Stott