Friday 8 March 2019

The Hong Kong Sleepover - Butcher & Bolt (2009)

Country: USA
Style: Heavy Metal
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 25 Feb 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Official Website | YouTube

Struggling through a poor batch of albums this morning, this one stood out for a terrible reason but I'm happy that it did. The reason? The Hong Kong Sleepover's vocalist clearly has a single goal in life, to sound as much like Lemmy as is humanly possible. Dedication is important and he's pretty damn close. The band don't always sound like Motörhead, but he could still easily land the vacant slot in any tribute band.

Sadly, I don't know who he is because, wherever I look, I can't track down a current band line-up. The last I can find dates back to 2013 and lists Ted Renner. Maybe he's still their vocalist and maybe he isn't. The only name I can find consistently is Miller High Life, which ought to be the honorable fifth band member given how much of it they seem to drink.

It's actually quite appropriate because the Hong Kong Sleepover are a band surely best seen in a bar after a few pints. There's nothing innovative or even particular notable here but they do what they do well and they do it very consistently. The first seven tracks here (of ten) are all heads down, no nonsense, balls to the wall, heavy rock 'n' roll.

Fire & Blood sets the stage with strong but slow, repetitive riffs and the Lemmy-esque vocals very much to the fore, never buried in the mix. It's no classic of the genre, but it rocks and it entertains. What It Means is much of the same, but a little more lively. Grousers and Grip play in the same sandpit and are decent enough songs too.

The double whammy of Ode to Ian Fraser and The Hell of Being Cut to Pieces is where the band really go for the full on Motörhead sound. The latter is surely the closest that I've heard anyone sound to Motörhead since the last Asomvel album. The Hell of Being Cut to Pieces has an interesting lyric and a strong solo. It's easily the best thing here thus far.

Except next up is Roller Derby Girls, which is a real peach of a track with a fantastic mid-section that betrays another overt influence, Brownsville Station. I'd bet that the Hong Kong Sleepover have been listening to their debut album and The Martian Boogie stood out for a contemporary update. I'm totally sold on the idea of Lemmy singing for Brownsville Station, just as a wild concept, but actually hearing it made my day.

To sum up thus far, the album started decently and got better in the middle. Sadly, it starts to fade away again at this point though, weirdly as if the band have forgotten what style in which they've been playing.

Salty About Mike starts out fine, with a decent enough Black Sabbath vibe, but it's too long and it loses us towards the end. It's almost two minutes longer than anything thus far and it has nothing to offer to justify that. It's also a bit of a change in style, something that comes back to mind on the other long song, the album's closer, Black & White. This is a much more interesting track, undeniably the most interesting on the album, but it does feel weird when it veers off into a progressive section 43 minutes into an otherwise very stylistically consistent 47 minute album.

I liked Butcher & Bolt, though I have no idea what the album title means. I see that the Hong Kong Sleepover have been around since 2007 and have two other albums to their name, Mustard and Bolshevik Firecrackers, released in 2008 and 2013 respectively. They're one of the least original bands to show up here at Apocalypse Later (maybe only Razzmattazz have them beat on that front) but most of this is good material and some of it's great.

The sad part is that they're based in Macomb, IL, and aren't likely to find themselves touring too far away from there. That's a shame because I'd like to see what these guys sound like live with a few beers inside me. Real beer, that is. None of this American champagne stuff.

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