Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Heaven's Basement's 'Filthy Empire' - Album Review

Despite the fact the band has been around since 2008, Heaven's Basement's debut album has finally been released this year. They first gained recognition with their self-titled EP that was released in 2008 and have supported many big-name rock bands since, plus have built up a pretty large following. However, line-up changes halted the band's progress and it was not until 2011 that their next EP Unbreakable was released and this was also the first recording to feature the current line-up. Almost two years of solid touring later, we finally have the band's debut album Filthy Empire. I have been waiting for this album since 2008 so it was with great excitement when my copy of the album came through my door signed by the band. I was hoping that after all the waiting that the album would not disappoint and I am very glad to say that it did not. While the first EP has a very distinct 80s sound, the material from the current line-up has brought that sound firmly into the 21st Century. It is a snarling, snapping beast of an album that is sure to appeal to anyone who is a fan of good old-fashioned hard rock music. 2013 looks to be a great year for Heaven's Basement, as not only have they finally released their debut album but their touring callander is extremely full. Hopefully this will finally mean that the band will get the widespread recognition that they deserve.

The album opens with the extremely hard-hitting Welcome Home. Right from the outset, you realise just what a great voice frontman Aaron Buchanan has. It is melodic yet gritty and really helps to get the vocals across above the wall of sound created by the rest of the band. Lone guitarist Sid Glover is on fire throughout this track. Whether is is furious riffing or a tight, melodic guitar solo - he makes the guitar really sing. This song really sets the tone for the rest of the album. Up next is first single Fire, Fire. This song is a throwback to their earliest sound, with very 80s sound and an extremely catchy chorus. The little trade offs between Glover's guitar and Rob Ellershaw's bass bring to mind the technical wizardry of Mr. Big and help to add a little class to the hard rocking number. A clean breakdown injects a nice change of pace into the song before a great guitar solo turns it back up to 11. A great choice for the first single as this song has a bit of everything that the band is so good at. Following that is secong single Nothing Left to Lose. This is sung as a duet between Buchanan and Glover (who also has a great voice) and this just adds some great attitude and swagger to the verses before one of the best choruses on the album comes in and makes you think you're seeing the band headlining Wembley Stadium. Again, there is a clean breakdown and this time it really emphasises the really melodic end of Buchanan's voice - he really is very versatile! The song is a true anthem. Lights Out in London (not a UFO cover..) comes next. It opens with an almost bluesy guitar riff that carries on throughout the verses before another monster chorus invades the melancholic song and kicks it into another dimension. It is probably one of the most singable choruses on the album and is sure to go down a storm live. Third single I am Electric follows. This is an angry little song, that races out of the speakers and grabs the listener by the balls and never lets up. It is definately the simplest and heaviest song on the album yet I am sure this will become another live staple because of the energy it is sure to create. Buchanan almost screams some of the lines, showing us more of what he can do with his voice.

The Long Goodbye comes next. This is the third recording of this song to surface. The original version was released online and featured original singer Richie Hevanz, the second version was on the Unbreakable EP and this is the third and best version. It has a snarl that none of the other versions have and the verses seem to swirl around your head in a slightly creepy way. It is great to finally have a definitive version of this great song. It would have been a shame to leave it on an EP (or even just as a relic from the original recording sessions for the band's debit in 2010)! Heartbreaking Son of a Bitch is up next and this is another short, heavy rocker full of vitriol and angst. The guitar solo in the middle of the song is excellent and the drumming from Chris Rivers is fast yet precise. He is a monster of a drummer and really shines throughout the album with a great drum sound. The next highlight is Can't Let Go which is another re-recorded track, but this time from the band's first EP. This has always been one of my favourite tracks by the band and it is great to have a version with great production. It is a very bassey track, with the bass carrying the verses before gang vocals great guitar work help the chrous to big heights. Again, I am glad they re-recorded this song - even if Buchanan does not quite reach the high notes that Hevanz did, it is great to have this heavier and ballsier version and it is a great addition to the album. The album comes to a close with the final re-recorded song Executioner's Day which has always been one of the most famous Heaven's Basement songs. Again, this version is much ballsier than the original version and brings the album to a heavy yet melodic end. Traditionally, this song us used by the band to end their concerts so it seems fitting that it finishes off their debut album. The bass is really audible throughout the track and really roars. Everyone is one top of their game and it shows! Overall, this album is fantastic and an early candidate for album of the year. I am just so happy that the band has finally managed to get a full length album recorded and released; and having been a fan since pretty much the beginning it was a special moment for me when I got to hear it for the first time. I just hope the album gets recognition and the band continue to work hard to build their fanbase. Although looking at their touring schedule for this year - I don't think that is in question!

The album was released on 4th February 2013 via Red Bull Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Nothing Left to Lose.

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