Review: Gorilla ‘Rock Our Souls’ Reissue

Gorilla, one of those bands that takes its influences – a lot of which are lesser known and underappreciated – brings them all together and channels them into something distinctive and vital. Vintage-sounding retro bands can be a lot of fun, but Gorilla is more than that, and it’s the balance they strike between the past and present that makes them special. They know their music as well as they know how to play, replicating the style of the bands they love, as well as creating sounds that are all their own. Heavy rock ‘n’ roll played by lifers who know what they’re doing.

Gorilla 'Rock Our Souls'

Rock Our Souls, originally released in 2007, has recently been reissued on Go Down Records. It’s Gorilla‘s third album and it continues in the spirit of the crushing but rocking bluesy and punky psychedelic sounds of debut Maximum Riff Mania and second album Gimme Some. Whereas MRM is real heavy on the fuzz, and Gimme Some is more dynamic, Rock Our Souls has a finely balanced sound throughout. It’s got all the elements established in the first two records, 70s heaviness, 60s song writing, and a right-now rock and roll vibe, but it amps the good times even further with some of their most direct nods to their favourite bands.

Massive drumming gives way to deft but pounding bass and raw unforgiving fuzz guitar as the album opens with Come On Now. Good time rockin’ vocals, searing guitar leads and scathing licks, slick bass runs, and shattering drum fills. Familiar but unique, heavy but packed with melody. It’s that everyone-invited good time Gorilla vibe, but everything is sitting in the mix in such a way that nothing is overwhelmed, or overwhelming, and that means you can just let go and enjoy the ride.

Vulture Tree has licks aplenty, steady and heavy riffing, casual vocals and drums pounding and crashing; all fills and swirls before just laying down hard and heavy beats. Gorilla consists of a heavy power trio that cracks the beams, but in the grand tradition each player has a unique flair. There’s a real fluid skilfulness to the playing, each member of the band are able to carry their own and weave in and out of the songs, then seamlessly come back in together tight as hell. The best example on the album is the last couple of minutes of Vulture Tree – nothing short of amazing.

Good time rockin’ vocals, searing guitar leads and scathing licks, slick bass runs, and shattering drum fills…

If you think you can put Gorilla in a cranked up Cream, Kinks, and Blue Cheer box, you should listen to their incredible homage to the one and only Motörhead with Bludd Sucka. It sounds like that classic Bronze lineup (of course), with Philthy drums, Fast leads, speed freak Kilmister bass, and snarling fuck-you vocals. It’s pretty much Overkill crossed with On Parole and a great nod to the dirtiest lawn-killing band in history. But in true Gorilla style, they make it their own with the chorus. I pulled a muscle in my neck listening to this.

From Motörhead to Black Sabbath, Preying Menace has a slow heavy groove that calls to mind early rustic Sabs, with a perfect take on Butler bass, jazzy Ward fills, and two perfect Iommian guitar solos. It even has a speedy hand clapping stomp that evokes a shirtless Ozzy losing it in his silver glam rock boots.

Rock R Soles is the most swinging rock and rolling song on the album, complete with slide guitar playing and rasping vocals. Gorilla turn their hands to any style (as long as it rocks hard) and not only nail it, but give it a twist and a shake which leaves you picking out the influences you recognise, while marvelling at what the band does to make something new. But their focus is clearly on crafting great songs. Nothing sounds like it’s just been thrown in for the hell of it. Whether that’s down to careful planning or natural song writing ability, the result is simply one great song after another.

Sand begins with lone guitar: clean and almost folky, perhaps reflective but definitely misleading because there’s no stopping Gorilla‘s unique fuck-the-safety-net rock and roll. Big bluesy heavy rock riffs build and descend before a cacophony of lead guitar and a tempo shift riding out to a land of groove.

Hot Cars as (sort of) introduced by Roky Erickson by means of a sample, is three minutes of heavy rocking 60s vibes, bass shining through as relentless drums drive wailing guitar and unpolished vocals. Album closer High N Mighty switches from high energy heaviness to a too-cool heavy riff. One minute it’s fast and punky and raw, the next it’s head high heavy riffing. One last blast of what Gorilla can do before hitting the bar.

Label: Go Down Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Josuph Price