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Gypsyhawk - Revelry And Resilience

Revelry And Resilience
by Tom Coles at 20 September 2012, 3:51 PM

There’s a real problem with reviewing revival stuff. At the very heart of it, the issue is a kind of fake nostalgia – many musicians weren’t around for the glory days when bands like SABBATH and THIN LIZZY were at their peak, and it’s easy to get mixed up in an idea of Rock purity and hero idolatry. Of course, this is only an issue for those who insist on constant variation; it is perfectly possible for a band to be entertaining and musically successful without altering the formula too much. Revival bands like AIRBORNE and THE ANSWER are all great fun. To understand a band like GYPSYHAWK, the elitism should be swept to one side – this is not a band who dissects GOJIRA and MESHUGGAH, looking for the next level of Rock music, but rather a high-octane tribute to their classic Rock heroes.

There are many good points to this album. The songwriting is competent, to be sure. The band shuffles through rhythmic changes at will, displaying influence from psychedelic and progressive influence as well as the more straightforward Hard Rock – a benefit of living in an internet age where the full discographies of bands are readily available rather than acquired piecemeal like their elders. The finest aspect of this band is their conviction – the pure joy of playing is displayed in every aspect of the record. This can, unfortunately, prove a double-edge sword; the lack of tongue-in-cheek attitude comes to knock them back down with lacklustre tracks like their cover of “Rock and Roll Hoochie Coo” which bizarrely strikes as being twee and too far into the realm of Rock N’ Roll cliché. Make no mistake though, their conviction is a quality which is hard to come by and should be celebrated.

The production in itself is superb, but I found myself wishing that the vocals were perhaps lower in the mix, allowing the rhythm section to breathe a little more. It’s a minor gripe, because Eric Harris’s voice really is quite good; it’s got a lot of Phil Lynott to it, and the production accentuates the gravelly smokiness. This works on tracks like “Frostwyrm”, a track brimming with influence from LIZZY’s “Emerald”. In isolation though, the vocals aren’t anything particularly outstanding, and would work better if they were more streamlined with the music.

Looking back even as I’ve written this, the predominant word I’ve typed is “competent”, which sadly summarises this effort. It succeeds only in being the sum of its parts – nothing stands out as spectacular or even notable. And whilst it would be perhaps cheapening to suggest that instead the album should be hook-laden, it would be greatly refreshing for the audience to have something to latch onto. There were no aspects of the album that drew me back for another listen, and even on several listens the real standout points were the aspects where I could identify the LIZZY-influenced riffs.

The album is a collection of reference points, which are competently executed. The issue is that this leaves the rest of the music with nowhere to go, and sadly the album has absolutely no identity of its own. But that’s not so important here – it’s well written stuff performed with conviction. On the back of their signing these guys look to be doing pretty well as the Hard Rock counterpart to Metal Blade’s recent signing of bands such as SATAN’S WRATH. This was the difficult sophomore album; hopefully for their next release they can mature out of their pool of influences and find their own voice in a genre which, at worst, rejects the advancement which could lend it much greater credibility.

3 Star Rating

1. Overleaded
2. The Fields
3. Hedgeking
4. Frostwyrm
5. Galaxy Rise
6. 1345
7. Night Songs from the Desert
8. The Red Wedding
9. Silver Queen
10. State Lines
11. Rock and Roll, Hoochie Coo
Andrew Packer- Guitars
Eric Harris- Bass and Voice
Ian "Pee Pee Rider" Brown - Drums
Erik "Ron Houser" Kluiber- Guitars
Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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