In half a century the mainstream rock music has evolved into many shapes and sounds, from progressive, into hard, into heavy and black, and various mixtures of the various genres. Nowadays many consider that this type of music has come to the point where there is nothing left to invent. It is in these times that musicians strive not to evolve or reinvent the wheel, but to bring about the sound that once dominated the radio stations and record players around the globe. These circumstances were fortunate to many garage bands swimming against the mainstream, whose sound did not evolve but rather kept the spirit of the 60’s and 70’s alive through thick and thin. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell is, without a doubt, a great representative of this movement.
The Shovell’s long awaited debut album, Don’t Hear It…Fear It! is a mixture of progressive, neo-psych and garage rock with strong and apparent influences from Black Sabbath, Budgie and the likes. The band was formed in 2008 by Bill Darlington (Drums), Louis Comfort-Wiggett (Bass) and Johnny Gorilla (Guitar and Vocals). The album perfectly catches the feeling of the middle 60’s: from the beginning on, I was under the impression that I was listening to vinyl in a small, dim room obscured by cigarette smoke with a friend, whose father had bought the record while on a trip somewhere abroad.
The album is very diverse, and ranges from pure-blooded rock and roll to amazing technical solos in the vein of the progressive metal champions. The opener, “Mark of the Beast,” kicks off with a psychedelic intro and from there on it is plain dirty, ill-mannered rock. The distorted vocals, the thundering guitars and galloping bass will bring you close to the 60’s as you’ve ever been. The Black Sabbath-influenced “The Devil’s Island” slows the tempo down and the amazing 6-minute “iDeath” fills the room with raw rage, especially by the end of the track where it explodes into a heavy, blasting jam. There a lot of heavy, pre-NWOBHM moments on the album, such as “Killer Kane” or “The Last Run,” that also has a slight punk feel to it. The album ends with the 14-minute “Bean Stew,” with 7 minutes of silence (remember the hidden tracks on the LPs in ‘those’ times) and seven minutes of pure technical genius – heavy bass lines, shredding guitars and enraged vocals, coupled with a lot of rhythm and sentiment shifts.
The production of the record is amazing. The vinyl feeling is present even though you are listening to an Mp3 or a CD recording. The noise of the needle moving through the record, the silent humming and the slight pitch variations are all reproduced within the sound, making it all the more vintage. However, the production of the instruments is crystal-clear and you can hear every note, again, just like on vinyl. The only complaint I have is addressed to the vocals – although the vocal distortion is a cool vintage effect, it is overused on the record. I understand that it was probably meant to make the record sound even filthier, but I don’t believe some clean-produced vocals would have compromised the feeling.
All in all, for all of you out there who adore the garage sound, listening to vinyls and reminiscing about the days when rock and roll was in its prime, Don’t Hear It…Fear It! is a must have album in your vinyl, CD or Mp3 collection.