Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mothership - Put On Your Seat Belts, Grab a Beer, and a Shot (or two)

Tough as nails stoner metal out of Texas is Mothership's stock in trade. I've read loads of comparisons to bands like Iron Maiden, UFO, and Thin Lizzy, and all I can figure is that some reviewers really don't know shit about rock. Sure, they cop some Maiden moves, but it's blatant enough to come off as homage, and not anything that could get them compared to the vision of Steve Harris. If you'd say early Motorhead, Iron Butterfly, or even Blue Cheer, I'd kind of get it, but these guys are full on bombast, and bluster - melody isn't very high on their list of priorities. Full tilt rock and roll is, though.

The Juett brother, Kells (guitar/vocals), and Kyle (bass/vocals) are joined by drummer Judge Smith, and they absolutely bring it. I get the impression that speed metal isn't an option here, this bunch is more about standing in the ring and going the full fifteen rounds. They write tight, punchy riffs, and when Kells goes after a solo, he gets in close and gives it all he has - he's not a high-tech shredder, but he's a passionate string bender who gets his point across.

Every cut here is thick and meaty - Kells gets high marks for layering some riffs and doubling up on his rhythms - the bass and guitars largely live together, full of dense muscularity and thrust.

If you wanna sling comparisons, I'd call these boys the bastard children of Foghat and Manowar. They don't swing like Lonesome Dave and the boys, but the boogie ain't too far off the mark, and while they don't have quite the melodic sophistication of Ross The Boss's bunch, they do possess that Spaghetti Western vibe of three gringos atop horses at the edge of a cliff - they got nowhere else to go, and they are up to the task of taking on the world. I'd love to see Mothership live, I'm guessing that is where they shine most gloriously.

It's funny that people keep referring to this as old school, when in fact, there's really not much old school about it. Sure, I hear the Maiden riffing on Win or Lose, and Juett owes much to Dave Murray for style points, but truth of the matter is that not a helluva lot of bands sounded like this in 1980. For better or worse, things then were much more polished, and proficient. This is steeped in '90s desert rock, and punkish anger. If Maiden had sounded more like this, Paul DiAnno may have lasted longer.

Comparisons matter not much - Mothership does what they do, and they do it damned well. The Juetts and Smith make an unholy racket that is perfect for our times. This is cool club metal - it doesn't have the depth, or sophistication to translate to arenas, but arenas don't matter any more. They should also fare very well on festival stages. Metal for the masses.

Lunar Master ends the album on a high note, with some adventurous jamming on the extended outro - a bit more thinking man than most of the mosh-up, and perhaps a promising look ahead. At any rate, Mothership should do great business when they get in the van and start working this stuff out every night in front. If you like your rock right in your face, and with the volume up full, Mothership will fly you right.

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