Review: Duskwood ‘The Last Voyage’

Writing the opening paragraph of an album review is hard, especially for something that’s being released on Ripple Music. I’ve blathered on about the label’s awesome roster of bands so many times that even I feel a bit embarrassed to pad out my word count by mentioning it again. And without that simple solution, you need something that you can at least try and pass off as witty that will lead to some germane point about the record you’re meant to be talking about. You know, sort of like how a talk at school assembly would suddenly arrive at a point about Jesus by stealth, even though they’ve building up to it for a while.

Duskwood 'The Last Voyage'
Duskwood ‘The Last Voyage’ Artwork

Anyways, today I’m to tell you about Duskwood and their second album The Last Voyage. Now, Duskwood are a four-piece hailing from a similar neck of the woods to the awesome Sergeant Thunderhoof and, as I’ve fairly strongly implied already, have recently joined Ripple Music’s awesome roster of bands. When picking this one up to review, I had a very distinct memory of listening to a previous EP of theirs on Bandcamp and thoroughly enjoying it, although I couldn’t actually remember anything specific about it. Still, high expectations and all that.

The press release doesn’t really give you many clues: the auditor in me disapproves of comparing a band to Kyuss, Woflmother, Clutch, 1000Mods and QOTSA as that pretty much just tells you it’s going to feature a guitar played with some degree of fuzz and/or distortion. That said, I reckon the reference to Kyuss mostly refers to the vocals of Liam Tinsley who throughout the record had me thinking of John Garcia, although the driving, heavy rock the band churn out had me thinking more of his post-Kyuss projects like Hermano.

Nit-picking press releases may be a hobby of mine, but once opener Vagrant comes blasting out of the speakers, I’m more than happy to let it lie. The track is six minutes of pure rock adrenaline that, unusually, always gets me air-drumming once the band get the bit between their teeth and go for it. There are some pretty sweet guitar solos too – nothing flashy but just what you need to top off a humdinger of a tune. Another thing that always strikes me when I spin this record is how good the production is – it’s crisp and clear and the band sounds awesome.

it’s crisp and clear and the band sounds awesome…

Next up is ‘single’ Gammon Lord, which slows the tempo slightly and introduces some nicely done quiet/loud dynamics. There’s a quality breakdown, but for me, the best bits are where Duskwood put their foot to the floor in what I guess you’d call the verse. She Calls is next, with more speedy verses and big choruses. It’s a good track, but the vocalist gets very John Garcia-y at points here, if you catch my drift, which may or may not be your cup of tea.

Duskwood slow things down with Blackhand, a moody number that definitely ticks the ‘quiet verse loud chorus’ box but rocks enough that you won’t mind. The next two tracks Iliad and Skyriders are both decent enough in their own right but aren’t really memorable or different enough from the earlier tracks to stand out. The album does end on a positive note as Legacy is the sort of epic slow-burner you always like to hear at the end of a record.

As you can see, there’s lots to like about this record and I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve listened to it, but there is just that little something missing that, to my mind, stops it from being essential. Perhaps it’s that there’s not a huge amount of variety between the tracks or that, apart from Vagrant, there isn’t anything that has me reaching immediately for the repeat button (should such a thing exist). You certainly won’t regret spending forty minutes listening to it, but I’m not going to guarantee that it will stay with you for much longer than that.

Label: Ripple Music
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Liam Blanc