I don’t know about you, but when I first heard the name ‘Bad Luck Rides On Wheels’ I imagined a bunch of gnarly old heavily-bearded biker dudes busting out some heavy old-school Obsessed-style biker rock with a touch of Motorhead, but as it turns out, what we have here is actually a far heavier proposition than that.
The Bad Luck boys manage to incorporate something for the discerning listener of just about every heavy genre – building from ominous psych to barrelling, belligerent hardcore-inflected metal on instrumental opener ‘Hollow’, and from spaced-out ambience to a throbbing repetitive pulse of guitar – not unlike a slowed-down version of BuzzOv-en’s ‘Red/Green’ – via oddly warbling female vocal samples and into chugging, churning thrash that in turn moves through a descending Eyehategod-type riff, glacially-paced doomy dischords and tripped-out psych before folding back in on itself and looping back to the throbbing repetition, restarting the chain once more on ‘Breathe’ – and this is all within only the first two tracks!!
Guitarists Rui Costa and Stephan Kurth seem to share vocal duties across the whole album, one having a lower-register bestial growl and the other a harsher, throaty bark, both of which foster the air of menace and seething aggression that permeates the music.
The quartet cover rather a lot of ground on this, their debut album, across eight tracks chock full of heavy goodness, most of which hover at around the ten minute mark, lengthwise, giving the band plenty of space within which to stretch out – and stretch out they do.
Aside from the previously mentioned pairing of tracks, there is the ‘Cavity-play-psych’ of ‘Lost/Kept’, the Sleep-shuffle/Space-rock/boogie headfuck of ‘Shrapnel #6’, the blistering BuzzOv-en-esque ‘Devide’, and the hidden cavernous depths of the otherwise speedy ‘Capture’ to contend with.
BLROW bow out here with a pair of absolute smashers, utilising every trick in their well-stuffed book; ‘Negotiate’ shifts from a loping, tumbling groove into a stop-start section somewhat reminiscent of Helmet trapped in a tar-pit before letting things coast along on a bass/drum groove that opens out into spacious guitar feedback and entwined notes, all the while being driven along by pummelling double-bass patterns and splashing cymbals, harmonised guitars and bass eventually spiralling down gradually into slothful, drawn-out chords growing ever farther apart.
Switching from the final disintegrating feedback of ‘Negotiate’, the urgent, choppy scything chug of ‘Garden Of Bones’ is a real jolt, as harmonic discords erupt across the face of the main riff, giving way to a neck-snappingly propulsive early Celtic Frost-type riff, double-bass smashing away and bestial vocals growling out venom. A fifteen-minute monster, halfway through things slow to a crawl, as a somewhat eastern-sounding guitar solo arises from between hanging chords like blocks of granite, sounding not unlike the slower paced moments of O.G Floridian death-masters Death themselves, carrying through and mutating across the remainder of the track. The album ends as the guitars devolve into minimalistic harmonies and a mournful acoustic guitar begins picking a melody that sees us through to the bitter conclusion.
As I said at the very start, there really is something here to satisfy the cravings of just about everyone who likes it heavy, all well-played, well-articulated and just plain nasty, and if you’re anything like me you’ll find the whole thing just flies past – sure the tracks are long but they sure as hell don’t feel long, so much information is there packed tightly inside each one.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming this is a heads-down biker boogie album – not that there’s anything wrong with that, some of my favourite bands git down and boogie – no sirs, what we have here is simply a heavy album, dark, brooding, seething and powerful. Pay attention as it would be YOUR bad luck to pass this by.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson