The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads

[xrr rating=4/5]

Glaswegian trio The Amazing Snakeheads are about as close as you can get to a bike-gang-band at the moment, scything through society with a gravel filled machine gun, mutilating men, women and children indiscriminately and with the belief of a freedom fighter’s martyrdom. The only difference being that martyrdom tends to follow morals and these boys lack any notion of the word as they embrace the night and embellish it’s darkness. We take a look at the new LP, released on Domino Records and already available fro pre-order on itunes so that we can revel in all it’s grimy glory.

Ampthetamine Ballads is the culmination of a degenerate band blinded by a punk ethos and wrapped in grotty, visceral rock and roll. Something which is apparent from the opening track; I’m A Vampire which not only shows the band’s affection for the cover of darkness but their unrelenting, spitting and snarling passion delivered perfectly in Dale’s vocal performance.

Screaming and scarring his voice rings around like gravel in a whiskey cement mixer being smashed to pieces by football hooligans. The lyrics do not lighten the mood either with I’m A Vampire “She’s more fucking beautiful than any woman I’ve met, and SHE FUCKING KNOWS IT” is a poetic piece from Barclay’s repertoire. 

The next two tracks go a long way to perpetuate these ideals, determining slime and grime as points of romantic beauty or shining the light on the darker side of love, they dabble with the underbelly of society. Nighttime and Swamp Song lead the perverted pathway towards one of the stand-out hits of the LP.

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Here It Comes Again has a little more direction than the previous tracks, it has clear garage and blues styling, mulling heavy rhythm with a screeching guitar and Barclay’s archetypal performance. Jordan and William’s most together piece of music come sin the form of Flatlining which with an overpowering bassline continues to pump like the un-dead heart of  a putrid zombie, slowly gathering pace until the blues rock and roll comes streaming through the song and lands in it’s crescendo amongst synths and heavy distortion.

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Where Is My Knife? lands closer to the Oklahoma horizon than Glasgow city centre, dripping with frontier Americana our wanderers lead the way into the unknown with enemies ready to ambush the convoy, as Barclay repeats the title of the song the impending doom leers up behind us, until slide guitars and vocal harmonies release the tension.

We are then treated to a slice of neo-soul by way of the cesspit of rock and roll with Everybody Wants to be Her Baby and Memories the latter of which even drops in the brassy glint of a saxophone to smooth over the sharp and cutting vocals and plump up the sound with a rich and smooth butteryness otherwise missing from the album. Heading For Heartbreak continues in this vein mixing plucking strings with a 60’s soulful injection that is emphasised as Barclay continues his impression of a 50’s crooner all set alight with the twang of his Scottish tone that is only ramped up with every bridge.

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Tiger By Tail then looms it’s head around the corner with Barclay’s vocals now sounding vulnerable and cold, yet still threatening, like a wounded animal contemplating death or one last bloodbath and marvellously complimented by the ethereal and angelic female vocals.

With those final plucking strings and heartbeating drums finishes what has to be one of the most violent and visceral albums released this year, marrying the obtuse darkness of The Cramps with the stroytelling techniques of Nick Cave, The Amazing Snakeheads sound like the bastard child of a 60’s zombie orgy adorned with dashes of punk, garage and blues and all wrapped up in the scummier side of society.

It’s all pretty insane – it’s pretty fucking fantastic.

Jack Whatley

 

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