BLOOD OF VANGOGH – ‘BLOOD OF VANGOGH’ (Independent)
Definitely not to be confused with the band that is more simply called Van Gogh and originate from Atlanta, this far more sanguine (sorry!) quartet originate from the north western end of the Great Lakes in Ontario, or at least Gary Borden does, being born in Thunder Bay. Gary is the great-great nephew of the famous Dutch post-impressionist painter and with his hard-hitting rock drummer friend Jamie Constant he recruited two additional, fantastic players in Doug Evans and Rick Mead. And boy, have they produced a corker of a debut album!
This is one of those albums that kicks ass on the first listen, but grows in stature and blissful familiarity with successive hearings. BOV is a band that knows how to write great rock tunes, performing them with panache and verve where only the strange concluding track ‘Drops Of Blood’ is in any way a let down. Far better it had been left off!
That one gripe apart, there are eleven fabulous songs, cohesive, hard-hitting different from each other but with the contributions of each of the quartet crystal clear, thanks to a sparkling production job by Borden and Constant. The rhythm guys are fantastic with many of the tracks heavily utilising either bass or drums to get them going, and more than once I was reminded of Kings X and particularly so on ‘Love And Hate’. The harmony vocals on each of the tracks are also magnificent, and are even complemented on ‘Stop The Bleed’ by a wonderful contribution from Sass Jordan, while Phil Naro collaborates on ‘Alone’ which is unlike any of the other songs and is a prime slice of melodic rock. ‘The Ugly Truth’ has a rhythm that reminded me of a mix of Blondie and The Police, and you may even find a Rolling Stones-inspired riff on ‘Thin Line’ if you pay attention! ‘Trapped’ really permeates the sensibilities after a couple of listens, while the terse ‘Go Back’ is another super song, and features the first (albeit brief) guitar solo on the album. ‘Karma Road’ and ‘Lady Heroine’ are further standout songs on a great album.
But wait, I have one more note of disappointment. The CD packaging...Yeah, it’s an insubstantial digipack without a booklet that some of you hate, but given that the artwork is by Hugh Syme, I reckon it is uninspiring and totally undersells the great music inside. BOV clearly thought otherwise, and fortunately for them, their music wins the day nevertheless. A splendid debut, musically!!
Paul Jerome Smith
FIREWORKS magazine UK issue # 61