From the outset this album from Canada's ‘Blood of Van Gogh’ has at its heart some kind of rocked up Southern vibe which brings a richness to the songs. ‘Hell Being Me’ that opens, for example, just has that sound to it that elevates it to that territory of more groove-laden Hard Rock. It’s a great song, with great melody and a modern vibe.
‘Stop the Bleed’ that follows is quite unexpected, again it’s got a great groove and some great backing vocals from Sass Jordan which give it a smoky soulful blues feel, but the song itself sound more like something Ace Frehley would lay down. It’s an interesting combination and strangely compelling, if as I say a little unexpected.
We then switch to the distinctly modern almost pop-rock of the funky ‘Trapped’ which owes as much to Joe Jackson as it does the Foos. Again it keeps coming back to that word ‘interesting’ (and remember interesting is a very good thing)… And that thought could well sum up the album as a whole – it’s a creation that on face value is some very solid Hard Rock but there are traces of all kinds in here: that Southern vibe, a bit of The Foos here and there, particularly in the way they lay down a clean yet edgy sound, maybe even a little Godsmack at times too.
One of our favourites ‘Love and Hate’ is completely different again, almost pop-infused Pink Floyd in style with some great melodies you will find yourself singing along to. Don’t expect it to come around again though!
There’s a deeper pop-rock groove to ‘The Ugly Truth’ which immediately had me envisioning Rick Springfield (we love Rick here). Then we get all serious on ‘Alone’ which is as close as we get to a ballad. ‘Go Back’ keeps us in radio rock territory, but it’s ‘Karma Road’ one of the heaviest songs here that really grabs you by the throat and take notice. It’s a song full of promise and backed up beautifully by ‘Lady Heroine’ and ‘Thin Line’ – three great rock tracks in anyone’s book.
Closing out the album ‘Save Your Will’ would have been perfect and it’s one of the best tracks here for sure, great classy Hard Rock with an incessant groove, cool vocal and wonderful guitar. Blood of Van Gogh have produced an album here that is remarkable in that they can get away with and carry off so many twists and turns. They play Hard Rock particularly well yet obviously have a great knack at writing lighter radio rock. Going back to that word again, maybe ‘interesting’ isn’t quite right – but there are so few bands these days who can so effortlessly vary their sound and get away with it it will have to suffice for now.
It’s at times hard to say if this is a band trying to find its sound, or a band so in love with music that they have to show you it all? If you like your albums to take you on a journey where you may not love every single turn but you will love the trip this is one for you. Blood of Van Gogh on the basis of this debut could go on to do anything.
by Mark Diggins