This gem of a release from Hevisike Records features two hard hitting power trios from England who exist purely to celebrate their love of good old fashioned rock n roll. Packaged on swanky vinyl (which serves to highlight the unique and stunning artwork by Dutch artist Maarten Donders), CD or the more portable digital download the straight forwardly titled Gorilla vs Grifter sees gruff Hastings outfit Gorilla go toe to toe with Plymouth’s blue merchants Grifter, each delivering four tracks that showcase themselves and compliment each other.
First up are the noiseniks Gorilla, as towering and muscular as their animal namesake, the band have a love of old school rock and punk with a dash of the eighties NWOBHM movement. They clearly worship at the temple of the recently departed Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister as their sound owes a debt to the man by channelling the proto-punk, buzz saw fuzz and gravel scraped vocals that recall Motörhead at their finest.
Both Barrels kicks off their contribution to the split with a belligerent speed rush which could practically be the long lost bother of the classic tune, Ace of Spades. The enthusiastic homage has enough of its own identity to stop it slipping into parody as the band batter you relentlessly with a glorification of balls out, driving music that defies you not to bang your head.
Slay Rider switches gear and augments the gruff core sound with a raw Southern Rock feel perfected by the likes of Pepper era C.O.C and Down. Here the guitar is a delicious fuzz that rolls along in a lazy, captivating style until, typically, the band can’t help themselves and puts the pedal to the metal for a fast paced, bruising mid section before returning to the laid back refrain.
Grind Yer Down sees the Motörhead chug rear its head once more as the band go for broke with infectious grooves, thundering drums and the epic mantra of “Don’t let the bastards grind yer down”. Sometimes if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and this track makes no apologies for that and as a result is an out and out joy to listen to.
Final track Three Squealer throws in another curveball with a Doomy, mid paced opening that gives way to a loose jam with a memorable gang chorus. Featuring plenty of ‘The Bruce Dickinson’ approved cowbell, this rocks along as one of the highlights of their contribution; no looking over their shoulder at influences, no compromise and no frills. This is just down and dirty rock and roll in all its glory.
On the flip side Grifter have spent their last three releases honing their sound into a slick, polished boogie that is more reminiscent of ZZ Top’s Eliminator than their grungier beginnings. On the strength of their recent output you would fear that they would be overpowered by their Hastings cohorts. Happily they have re-embraced their punk and rockabilly influences, both in terms of production and song writing, which has given them a harder edged sound that matches the live delivery and brings a more abrasive approach that allows them to hold their own.
Falling Asleep highlights that Grifter have always been about riffs and hooks and its muscular multi-layered vocals sound like they are spoiling for a fight. As always it builds to a huge sing-a-long chorus that sticks in your head and features hypnotic solos, funky bass breakdowns and smashing drums.
On Paige Turner a rolling riff leads innocently into a tale that on the surface is about porn mags but over the course of four minutes is actually a paean to the pre internet days where you had to work hard to discover new passions. The music has lots of space for the story and killer musical moment to keep it rocking along.
Hi Wasted is a fast paced, gritty rocker with an infectious chorus, propelled along by some fantastic drumming and pure filthy blues, whilst the closing track Me Love is the hardest contribution on their side, rounding out with a bruising pit anthem of a tune. Chock full of dry humour and acerbic observation it dares you not to dance to it and the boys cut loose and go for broke.
2 bands, 8 tracks and 1 great collaboration. Mastered to perfection by Tony Reed of Mos Generator, this is a release worth getting hold of if you are a fan of British hard rock. Gorilla vs Grifter doesn’t care about trends, it is pure rock and roll at its finest. Both bands here give a great account of themselves and the match up works well in the fact if you like one side, it is a safe bet that you will like the other, giving you enough of a taste of each to leave you wanting more.
Gorilla vs Grifter is the perfect gateway into either band, although it’s more like being in the middle of two bawdy dudes who want to go out, get shit-faced and have a good time. And you’re coming with them. Whether you like it or not!
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden