Tuesday 4 June 2019

Blackstone Puppets - Breakdown (2019)

Country: Greece
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 25 May 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | YouTube

Well, this wasn't what I was expecting! Blackstone Puppets are a hard rock band from Thessalonika in Greece and I was intrigued to see what they would sound like. What I found was a kind of cross between Tank and Girlschool, a NWOBHM mixture that took me completely by surprise! Now I'm intrigued as to how those sounds coalesced in Thessalonika for a band who didn't form until 2016 to pick up on.

The best track, to my mind, is the one that kicks off the album. It's Beer in My Veins, which begins with Tank style guitars from Kirk and BB and then adds Girlschool vocals from Alice. While she, as the frontwoman, is easily the most obvious aspect to Blackstone Puppets, the rest of the band really constitute a fierce backbone for her to sing over.

They're notably tight and more than willing to jam for a few minutes midway through a song, swapping guitar licks and even letting Lucky's bass take a spotlight for a while. The remaining band member is Woodie, who's a patient but very capable drummer. No insult intended to Alice, but I could easily listen to these guys just jam without any vocals at all.

Fortunately, Alice is a strong addition to the band too, especially when it kicks up the tempo. She's at her best when rocking out on Beer in My Veins, soaring on Super Power Vein and especially getting wildly emphatic on Hopes & Dreams. Sadly she doesn't do as well on Forsaken, as it's a slower song and crooning just isn't her thing.

This often reminded me of a Friday Rock Show session, not only because it features four tracks that rack up almost twenty minutes between them, but because the point seems to use those four tracks to introduce them to the world at large and show off what they can do. Accordingly, the four songs are agreeably varied. Forsaken isn't a poor song, even if it's the weakest on offer, and I enjoyed the bluesy guitar and arena rock power chords.

While I saw Beer in My Veins as the standout track from my first listen, I have to highlight Hopes & Dreams too. It closes out the album in particular style, with a showcase performance from Alice and a glorious ending that's surely designed to trip up DJs who start talking over it because they think it's over. It stalks really well and it blisters when it's ready.

As far as I'm aware, Blackstone Puppets haven't released much else. There's a single (and associated video) from 2017 called Stoned Alice, the original name of the band which is unrelated to the lead singer's name as she didn't join until afterwards. This appears to be their debut otherwise. It's good stuff and I look forward to seeing what they're going to do next!

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