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Gutlocker – To Be Alive

To Be Alive
by Savely Nevzorov at 09 August 2022, 9:14 PM

GUTLOCKER from Woking, U.K., just released their debut L.P., "To Be Alive." The band has been active since their first E.P., "Cry Havoc!" was released in 2018. GUTLOCKER describes themselves as a "grumpy four-piece band from a quaint Surrey town full of alien tripods, well-armed with gnarly riffs and posh accents." It received great acclaim in the U.K. metal underground, based on online reviews. So, I was quite intrigued to see what the fuss was about.

The best way I can describe GUTLOCKER's music is Groove Metal, which occasionally spills over in different directions. Such versatility is valuable, especially when your record is over 50 minutes long. With that being said, half an hour into such form, I started wondering, "what is it I'm listening to? Not that it was some intricate fusion of genres that would leave one puzzled by the outcome, but rather felt like the band wasn't quite sure what it wanted to play. The album kicks off as a rock-n-rolly Groove, then suddenly switches to some different jams, then jumps back to Groove, gets tired of it a little, and repeats. At one point tries go for something more extreme like on tracks "Send Them All In" and "Out of Sight," then slide to Punk-like on the song "S.F.S," only to end up with a 12-minutes long PELICAN-style "Man Too Proud" – a "mandatory epic ending" a song containing some great singing. However, it is also some quite unremarkable compilation of Post-metal licks smashed into one piece.

Still, searching for one's sound is a natural process for new bands, and that's what debut albums are for. Some minor identity issues here and there shall not prevent you from enjoying this record. I find most songs on this record to be generally pleasant and satisfying. "To Be Alive" is packed with good riffs and charming vocals and will often make you nod to its grooves. The dynamics between the singer and the band are stellar, as they complement each other perfectly. It's a shame we only hear the clean vocals at the end of the record. So, let's hope GUTLOCKER improve that aspect of their songwriting on their next record. Also, choosing a slightly livelier sound could have been a little better. At the end of the day, it sounds like GUTLOCKER's music works best at live shows. Therefore, a slightly more natural sound could have given the band a more exciting edge.

I genuinely enjoyed my time with "To Be Alive." While it might still be a little rough on the edges, there's this general feeling that the band is capable of something outstanding. Once they discover their formula, there may be a bright future ahead of them.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Send Them All In
2. Make My Day
3. Sink or Swim
4. To Be Alive
5. Out of Sight
6. S.F.S.
7. Absence of Change
8. 8727733
9. Once A Snake
10. Temporary Bliss
11. Man Too Proud
Ben Rollinson – Bass
Dean Walker – Drums
Peter Tucker – Guitar
Craig McBrearty - Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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