Review: Johnny The Boy ‘You’

Sometimes, something that has transpired organically can become one of the most wondrous things indeed. Whether it be music, art, or anything else creative, often the start point, and the end point can be on completely different wavelengths indeed.

With a lot of bands, it is often a side project that is a bigger surprise as it can be so vastly different and will polarise an audience completely.

Johnny The Boy 'You' Artwork
Johnny The Boy ‘You’ Artwork

For instance, taking two of the core members of Crippled Black Phoenix, you could expect something along the lines of a moody, proggy, post-rock swayed and somewhat ambient creation, which may nod toward the CBP sound. Or, you may be completely surprised by an antagonistic mix of sludge and black metal, with some elements of hard-edged rock and roll. Either way, you would still be forgiven for expecting something which either complemented Crippled Black Phoenix, or completely destroyed that myth outright.

Well, if it’s the former you are hoping for, you will be somewhat disappointed. For those of you hoping for something altogether more extreme, hold on to your lunchboxes, because boy are there some surprises waiting for you.

Johnny The Boy couldn’t be more different if they had tried. Formed out of some concepts thrown around during the recording of the last Crippled Black Phoenix album, Belinda Kordic and Justin Greaves took a simple idea, and have breathed pure guttural life into it, and what’s spewed forth is a piece of work so dark, it will literally rot your soul from the first time you witness it.

You is the debut album by the three-piece Johnny The Boy. The CBP duo are accompanied by Matt Crawford, to form a trio dipped in the tars of hell, who have stepped out of the darkness to unleash something monstrous in the process. It’s an eight-track thrill ride, designed to upset your mundane little existence and leave you battered and bruised in the process.

Right from the opening bars of Die Already, it is the sound of a savage beast, trying to be tamed by its creators, who can do nothing more than hold on, and go for the ride. It’s a blitzkrieg of noise, complete with pummelling drums, distorted guitar, and visceral vocals. It’s a gut-wrenching opening, to what will prove to be an intense thrill ride of an album indeed.

It’s a blitzkrieg of noise, complete with pummelling drums, distorted guitar, and visceral vocals…

Throughout the whole track, the screeched demonic vocal is ever present and pushes me to make the dangerous comparison of it being a bastard cross of Dani Filth on early, and I really do mean early, Cradle of Filth recordings, and Jeff Walker of Carcass. It is vicious, literally face melting in its delivery, and leaves me truly fearful for my own vocal cords, let alone anyone else’s.

Tracks two and three, Grime and He Moves respectively, do nothing but solidify the ferocity apparent on this album. It is both heavy and punishing, without being inaudible. The core backbone for each track is the dynamic of those thunderous drums, accompanied by a rumbling bassline, and wailed guitar, which is over laced with that truly venomous vocal.

By the time track four, Endlessly Senseless, rolls around, you may well think you have a good grasp on the sound of Johnny The Boy, but you are in for a surprise. This time it’s a slower, doomier affair. It has some Alice In Chains sensibilities to it, albeit with that now synonymous vocal riding across the top. There is a lot of dank chuggy goodness to behold here, and over the course of this one, I find myself really quite taken with it.

Crossings returns us to that now familiar Johnny The Boy sound, where there are moments of musical bedlam when all hell breaks loose, which is nicely interspersed between passages of dense drudgy doom. Druh steps up next, and it’s a full-on pummelling from start to finish. Its only a couple of minutes long, but jeez is it an intense experience.

Track seven, Wired, has a somewhat different feel to it, and this is the track that stands out the most for me. It has an old school punk rock hardcore vibe, and as it powers along, its unafraid to hit turbo at any given moment. Without You finishes off the opus, and this time its all change. There are sung vocals in the mix, and this is somehow more disconcerting than the screech vocal. Choruses are heavy and slow, and by its final third, it drops off to a truly sombre finish.

This isn’t an album for the faint hearted, and nor is it for those black metal meatheads out there, looking for something furious and inaudible to smash their faces in for a quick fix. What this is, is a dark decent into hell, where anything could happen at any given moment. It’s a vulgar attack on the senses, designed to cause unease, and in doing so, it succeeds completely.

Take a chance, if you dare. You may love it, you may loathe it, but either way, its as unique as it gets, and is a cracking listen indeed.

Label: Season Of Mist
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish