Tuesday 30 April 2019

Cocaine Wolves - Second Scorching (2019)

Country: USA
Style: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 22 Feb 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Official Website | Twitter

This appropriately titled second album for Indianopolis rockers, the Cocaine Wolves, came out back in February but I've only just noticed it and I'm very happy that I did because they're both good at what they do and very happy to do what they do, regardless of whether it's trendy or not.

So, what do they do? Fortunately their Bandcamp page is pretty accurate, as these descriptions go. "The Cocaine Wolves exist at the intersection of punk rock, heavy metal, and riff rock." "Put Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, and The Dictators in a blender and call the Muncie Department of Sanitation out to clean up the aftermath." Yeah, I can dig that.

And, for once, I agree with it. The opening track, You Been Had, kicks off like an old school Iron Maiden song (there's so much of The Trooper in it that I was singing along with different lyrics for a while) but it ends up as a punk singalong. The drums are more punk while the guitars are often a lot more metal.

This carries on throughout the album, with some songs more punk and others more metal and many of them moving from one to the other and sometimes back again. Banned in Muncie may not be as punk as the Bad Brains' Banned in DC but it's still clearly punk. PK Ripper is punk pop until it transforms into a metal song in the middle. The chorus of Good Times Only sees the band's vocalist chant along in punk style over a very metal guitar.

Now, many of you are thinking, "Hang on a minute! What sort of punk? What sort of metal?" Well, the Cocaine Wolves are rather versatile there too.

Their punk side is generally on the happier side, so punk pop rather than, say, extreme stuff like crust or grindcore. It's bouncy and upbeat music, full of rough melodies and 'woah woah' chants, but it's much more fun and much less ruthlessly commercial than anything on a Green Day album. Saint Aigner isn't a misspelled Metallica cover, it's a punk story song with an intro that could have been on a seventies Kiss album.

Their metal side is rooted in the late seventies and early eighties, very much in the NWOBHM vein. Comin' in Hot is like something Raven could have put out. 2017 (A Treatise of Human Nature) has a Tank feel to it with some blistering guitarwork to ramp up its running time (at almost seven minutes, it's two and a half minutes longer than anything else on the album).

However, they're clearly not interested in restricting themselves to those influences, adding in whatever else seems to fit the need at hand. Case in point: the title track ratches up the pace until it's close to being an old school speed metal song but with punk time changes and the inevitable "one, two, three, four" intro. I dug this one a lot. "Look out below!" indeed. I would dive to this!

While Second Scorching clearly isn't aimed at being anything groundbreaking ("We play for good times only," they sing on, well, Good Times Only), it's done very well and with absolutely no shame about the way it wanders back and forth between punk and metal. It walks that line really well too, with neither side being so overt that it would alienate the other.

Given that the Cocaine Wolves's first scorching was an album called Royal Feast back in April of 2010, I wonder why it took them this long to return to the studio but I'm happy they did. Now I need to track down that first album. And I'd love to see these guys play in a small club. When are you touring, folks?

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