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Album Review

Band Of Skulls – By Default


A ferociousness you can’t ignore.

Label: BMG Recordings
Released: 27th May 2016

Rating: ★★★

With an immediate ferociousness you simply can’t ignore, Band of Skulls have returned. The resulting experience flows from aggressive blues through to fully-formed power rock. It’s almost impossible not to be hooked with the crack of the snare on opener ‘Black Magic’.

‘Killer’ starts with a stalking guitar line that suddenly rears up into an almost shrieking state, it’s insanity with borderline carnality. Singer and guitarist Russell Marsden has an air of sleaze twinned with danger in his voice and lyricism, but it’s when Emma Richardson’s vocals enter the mix that there’s another dimension added. She brings a lighter edge, especially when singing solo, as found in ‘So Good’. Here, the atmosphere is decidedly more innocent and hopeful.

There’s something very The Kills about the style that Band of Skulls find on this new record. It’s overtly sleazy in places with plenty of vocal chemistry; it’s as if they’re singing to each other rather than us. Finale ‘Something’ is at the climax, and the most tender moment here. Steven Loftin