“It’s bows and arrows against the lightning, anyhow,” said the artilleryman. “They ‘aven’t seen that fire-beam yet.”
The title of this debut release from Chapel Hill, North Carolina doom crew Bitter Resolve always makes me think of HG Well’s book and Jeff Wayne’s musical War Of The Worlds (not I should note the crap film with the short Scientologist in it) where the artilleryman uses this phrase to describe the futility of the human response to the Martian invasion, because let’s face it, it’s a damn cool line.
Such lofty expectations placed on the shoulders of the band probably aren’t helped by them describing their music as ‘free’. What in actual fact is on the ‘Bows & Arrows…’ is a largely heady mixture of psychedelic, progressive doom with a bundle of other bits and bobs thrown in. So you can expect all the usual Black Sabbath, Trouble, St Vitus type influences to be checked, along with a few surprises along the way.
Opening track ‘A Day Without Fairies’ starts off in the epic sort of space rock fuzziness that used to be the chief stock in trade of Monster Magnet, mingled with Ozzy era Sabbath. The trio of Lauren Fitzpatrick on drums, R. Corey Dial on vocals/guitar and Robert Walsh on vocals/bass handle themselves well carving out slabs of doom accented by melodic guitar flourishes. However the end of the track dissolves into a picked coda that sounds uncannily like some of Randy Rhoades work on the ‘Diary Of A Madman’ album… still no bad thing, it just sits oddly at the end of the track…
‘… An Arch That Spans Regret’ is a more straight forward chugging, plodding work out that the band carry off with a great deal of success, especially when they shift the tempo up a gear and produce some truly head nodding moments whilst ‘A Perfect Alignment’ crashes in with more urgency and a meandering lead that offsets the pounding rhythm section and compliments Walsh’s voice. This is especially evident on the low range build and release sections. As far as stand out tracks on this EP go, this was easily my favourite.
‘We Must Build An Atomic Blaster’ and ‘Molly Brown’ continue this theme – swirling melodies countered against soaring vocals and epic passages of ringing chords. If I had any real issue with these tracks, it’s that the production of the EP probably began to grate a little by this point as it seemed unnecessarily fuzzy and the distortion masked some really good moments of musicianship, but when they hit a groove they make for some truly cool music.
Until the last track; To these ears ‘Large Hadron Collider’ takes it’s main driving riff and vocal melody from Alice In Chains ‘Man In The Box’ and mixes it in with some doom completely robbing me of any satisfaction I had derived from this release which was a shame.
Bitter Resolve have great potential – some of the tracks on ‘Bows And Arrows…’ display confidence and ability and have a lot to offer – sadly they just haven’t managed it consistently here.
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Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden