Country: South Africa
Style: Hard Rock
Release Date: 12 Jul 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | YouTube
Not to be confused with Canadian rockers Black Pistol Fire, Black Pistol are a South African hard rock band with a stoner edge, because of the slightly fuzzy guitarwork of Roan Mustang. That contribution edges them more towards a Wolfmother comparison than an Airbourne one, those being the couple most obvious modern bands to raise. I've read that they have the usual sort of classic influences too but I'm hearing them a lot less.
They've been around since 2014 and this is their debut album, after a self-titled EP back in 2017. While they sound tight and natural together, there have been line-up changes. Apparently Stiaan Bruwer is a recent addition on vocals, as is a gentleman called Daniel on drums (the band's Facebook page credits him as Nicolas Cage, so I have no idea what his surname really is). The other band member is Jacques le Roux, who with Mustang, has been there for a lot longer, perhaps throughout.
While I'll freely admit that it was the fantastic cover art that grabbed my attention first, the music wasn't far behind. This is a deep album worthy of exploration but it's also an immediate one, with an enticing opening track, Nowhere to Run beginning with a brief drum solo, heavy bass and then bouncy vocals combined with bouncy riffs. The only oddity is that the bridge sounds bizarrely reminiscent of classic Magnum, who would not otherwise be raised in this review. It's very much Bob Catley phrasing.
For all the contemporary comparisons that can be conjured up, Nowhere to Run is an old school track with everything it needs and little more too for good measure. It's lively and very much to the point. The vocals are playful and melodic but with power to them that escalates as the song runs on. The riffs are strong and lead into an appropriately wailing solo given the song title. The rhythm section is solid but manages to find its way into the spotlight at points. And the whole thing is only just over four minutes in length.
What's more, the band take that as a template and promptly knock out another bunch of songs that check off most of the same criteria. Differences do show up though. Call to Arms finds points to quieten down, presumably to allow the audience to join in when they play it live. Devil in Disguise is slower and has a neatly heavy midsection that elevates it. If that hints at Black Sabbath, then Down the Hatch underlines that connection, though Bruwer has little in common with any of Sabbath's many singers.
Hilariously, Heaven & Hell is up next, though it's not that one! It's a top notch song too but it's not the epic that its name and six minute running time might suggest. That job falls to the title track which is probably the best song on the album. It has the best riffs and a fantastic melody too. I preferred the first half to the second but Evil is a late highlight, kind of like a Danzig song during the verses and a Danzig song on speed during the chorus. Preacher wraps things up with extra fuzz and a punky edge.
I dug this album a lot. Beyond simply sounding good, it has an urgency to it that bestows energy onto the listener. Black Pistol really ought to generate some action live. Most of it also gets better on repeat listens, though the opposite holds true for me on a couple of songs on the second half. They're consistent though, so that may well be a personal thing and you might adore them more than anything else here.
Consistency is never a bad thing and I'd very much like to see if that will hold true for a second album.