Friday 6 September 2019

The Neptune Power Federation - Memoirs of a Rat Queen (2019)

Country: Australia
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 30 Aug 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Official Website

From the land down under come the Neptune Power Federation with their fourth album. I hadn't heard of this bunch before, but I'll definitely be checking out albums one to three sometime soon, because this is wild. They hail from Sydney, Australia, and they play an odd mix of styles that I had no reason to expect. Hey, "psychedelic rock" is a wide genre, running from hippie folk to stoner metal, so my ears are well and truly open, but I wasn't expecting Can You Dig, which may best be described as Suzi Quatro meets Hawkwind.

Yeah, that was my reaction too, but this is a good sound, with a blistering vocal from the intriguingly named Screaming Loz Sutch, surely the "imperial priestess" of the lyrics and the possessor of an astoundingly strong voice. Whatever the style the band play in, and that varies from song to song, she reminds of Grace Slick but on steroids. To highlight the variety, the band's description of themselves is style-averse: their Facebook page going with, "10 Megatons of neanderthal rock fuelled by Satan and space hallucinogens." I can see that.

Watch Our Masters Bleed is an exercise in power and control, starting quiet but getting seriously intense, Sutch outstripping the power in the guitars' power chords just because she can. By the way, the guitarists go by Inverted CruciFox and Search & DesTroy, so there's an overt sense of humour here. The band are completed by Jaytanic Ritual on bass and Mr. Styx on drums.

If the Hawkwind sound is there from the start, this song follows Lemmy into Motörhead mode during its midsection, even if it ends like the Beatles. The variety continues to be delightful. Flying Incendiary Club for Subjugating Demons (how's that for a song title?) starts out like a satanic Sandy Denny playing call and return with AC/DC, but it moves into Joan Jett singing for the Ram Jam Band.

Rat Queen is truer to the style that Sutch fits best, the Jefferson Airplane acid trip with major emphasis on power. There's blues in there too, with a harmonica from hell. The blues kicks off the appropriately titled Bound for Hell in subdued fashion but it ramps up soon enough. I'll Make a Man Out of You is a sing-along glam song but an intense one. The Reaper Comes for Thee, as the title suggests, gets notably doomy on us before ending in a spiritual round, of all things. Only Pagan Inclinations, a harmonied pop song heavied up, did little for me.

I really like this band. These songs have energy levels that range from high to out of this frickin' world. The musicians kick seven shades of ass with a backing section of the sort that only Aussie rock bands seem to be able to do this easily, but I especially dig what this imperial priestess is laying down.

Watching videos, I see that she favours tall, ornate headdresses that hint at her being about eight feet tall. Frankly, her voice is bigger than that! She explodes out of this album like the medium isn't sufficient to contain her. There were many points where I honestly felt like she might climb out of my speakers to keep on singing on my desk. That's a feeling I haven't had since Noddy Holder of Slade and I honestly wasn't ever expecting to repeat. I really need to see this band live!

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