You can imagine the meetings in record label boardrooms once Royal Blood broke big time, “Sign me a two piece… less of them to pay, more of a cut for me…”. An idea so simple that label heads must have been crying into their coffers. ”Christ why didn’t I think of that?” The Unit are a two piece, but unlike a lot of other duos, they sound nothing like Royal Blood, not even “Royal Blood-esque”. They make a racket, that’s for sure. In places, it sounds like what would happen if only two members of L7 turned up for practice. Punk meets up with metal for a drink, then they decide to drag early grunge along for the ride.
Fronted by Sofi Savage on chainsaw guitar and vocals, and with the manic Hutch Hostile on drums (aren’t all drummers manic?), The Unit call Long Beach, California home. To me, California screams laidback, west coast hippies getting stoned on Venice Beach while playing bongos. The Unit sound like they should be from the edgier east coast, NYC, or judging by their Facebook pictures, Gotham! If Harley Quinn and The Joker were in a band during their down time, it would be The Unit. ‘I Won’t Die’ is a short jolt to the system. The guitars from Savage contain the right amount of fuzz without veering into stoner rock, a healthy mix of short, sharp chords and big riffs. Hostile mixes it up constantly, flashing between pounding bass drums and crisp cymbal work with ease. The songs on offer range from the dark, brooding opener ’The Black’ (complete with oodles of feedback and a stunning drum sound), to the ballistic all-out assault of ‘All That’s Left’, and the trippy vibe of both ‘And I Walk’ and ‘Hide’. There are so many different twists and turns throughout this blistering debut. ‘Stake In Your Mind’ is the standout track, the guitar effects are incredible, and the vocals simply stop me in my tracks every time I hear them. Savage is a raw and uncompromising talent. Her vocals and playing are outstanding throughout, and young Mr Hostile is an animal behind his kit.
The Picturebooks proved that two piece bands didn’t start or finish with Royal Blood. The Unit are going a long way to continue that trend.
Available now through Pavement Entertainment, more information here.
Review: Dave Stott