[24 February 2014]
Butchers of Sky Valley play a capable, sometimes-invigorating style of bluesy guitar rock that, at its best, transcends the genre to achieve something singular. Opening track “Black Magic” combines tasty guitar licks, dreamy vocals and a propulsive beat into a head-nodding sonic stew that will satisfy guitarheads of all ages. That proves to be the album’s high point, although a few subsequent numbers do incorporate foot-stomping energy into their vigorous, guitar-driven workouts – “It’s Not the Pale Moon That Excites Me” is especially satisfying in this regard, while the nervy “Pony Up” and keyboard-enriched “Mayday Revival” are winning too. Elsewhere, though, the energy flags as the band tries for a different, low-key stoner vibe, but mainly just undermines their strengths in the process. “Get Loose” is especially dire, with the vocalist declaring unconvincingly that “I got the blues so bad”, but the listless “Bereft Theft” and “What the Devil Don’t Say” fall into this trap as well (although that fiddle is unexpected, and fun). A mixed bag, then, incorporating both a few nuggets and a few duds. Let’s hope the band plays to its strengths next time around, and produces the modern-rock masterpiece it seems capable of.