In the coming few months I will be hitting the ripe old age of forty-nine, and even though there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet, over the last few years I have become quite reflective about things in my life. Things I could have done, places I could have been, and bands I would have loved to have seen right when they made an impression on my life. As someone who started listening to heavy music in the late eighties, my formative years were spent jumping from one band to the next, and throughout it all, as bands came and went, there were a few that stuck, and have stayed.
One element I always loved were the vocalists, and even now, they have stayed in my heart. There are four especially, Layne Staley, of Alice in Chains, the almighty Max Cavalera, and then there are two American vocalists who have remained in the scene, but both have been pretty much criminally overlooked. One is Mark Hennessy of Paw, and now Godzillionaire, and the other is a man who is so iconic to me, for what he brought to one of my favourite albums of all time, and that is a one Mr Karl Agell. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Agell was the Corrosion of Conformity Blind era vocalist, and this man single handedly shone like a star from the first time I heard Dance Of The Dead to this very day.
After leaving Corrosion of Conformity, Agell went on to join other bands, most notably Leadfoot, who were a complete revelation at the time. After a good couple of albums though, he kind of disappeared into the mists of time, especially for me, as up until this very week, I really had no clue he was still involved in the music industry, on any level.
So, it was a complete surprise when low and behold, his very name popped up on Instagram this week, via one of the many obscure pages of heavy music I follow. This time though, Agell has aligned himself with three other like-minded souls, who have produced one of the most enjoyable heavy music albums I’ve heard in a long while.
Alongside Karl, we have Jeff JD Dennis, drummer extraordinaire, and TR Gwynne and Graham Fry, both of whom have played with Karl previously, in Leadfoot. The sound they bash out amongst themselves has elements of hard rock, a little punk, and some classic southern and Sabbathy stoner goodness all rolling around, to create something truly magical. There is also a good splattering of fun and carefreeness to it all, these guys obviously enjoy making this sound so much, and you can feel it throughout.
As for the album itself, it is entitled Burn To The Moon, it’s been released under the JM Records label, and whilst it’s pretty hard to find, hitting up Bandcamp will be a special payoff. If you are outside of the US, you may well have to wait for any physical releases, but its all right there to stream for free or buy the digital download if you want it.
There are twelve tracks in total, and bar one instrumental little interlude, Pontius Pilate, the rest of the album is full-on, hard rocking, retro-tinged greatness, by a band who are doing what they love, because they love it, and that comes across on the whole release.
Agell is absolutely on fire vocally all the way through and does a sterling job of fronting this hard rocking unit…
Agell is absolutely on fire vocally all the way through and does a sterling job of fronting this hard rocking unit. Jeff Dennis is a savage on those drums, and handles them sublimely, driving the backline throughout. TR Gwynne’s bass throbs over everything and adds those dark stoner-tinged rhythms into the mix. And then there’s Graham Fry, who wields that guitar with such mastery, that you can feel every stroke across the strings in your very soul.
Each track is a slice of pure heavy, and at times sleazy, good time rock and roll. I could go through each track, but as is the way, I would rather nudge you to check out specific highlights and see for yourself.
While tracks such as In The Shadow have that classic hard rock feel and will bring forward an understanding of Lie Heavy as a band, its tracks like Burn To The Moon, and When The Universe Cries that will really show the versatility within the band and their sound. So much more than just another rock band, these guys have an air which is totally refreshing. Add to that the chuggy Unbeliever, with its definite Black Sabbath connotations, and the punchier Diabolik, which really shows off the bands harder edged side.
Then there’s the track Lie Heavy, and its accompanying promotional video, which truly encapsulates exactly who these guys are. It’s fun, energetic, and feels so legitimate, it’s hard to believe this is only the debut for the band. Yes, I know Leadfoot was a thing, but this is an evolution from there.
The one thing I will say, if you are wanting to check them out and need a starting point, aim at the track Chunkadelic as it’s an absolute banger. I won’t say too much, but it’s great.
Obviously, for me, one of my all-time musical heroes is here, and as good as ever, so it’s a real win, but where this wouldn’t usually be my go-to sort of heavy rock, the fact that it’s such a great album is a real bonus. Like I’ve said, if you are tempted, then Bandcamp is the place to find them and I really hope you do as these guys are the real deal.