Sunday, 21 April 2013

Death Ape Disco - Supervolcano (album review)

Cover artwork by Greig Clifford
Along with Enos, March the Desert, Anacondas, Sea Bastard and King Goat, Death Ape Disco are among a terrific crop of newer bands from a burgeoning underground scene in Brighton, a seaside town on the south end of England.  The diversity of styles on display in this group of bands gives evidence of the fertility of the local scene.  Each of the bands listed above is as different sounding as they are excellent.  Among the most outstanding and the most unique of these bands is Death Ape Disco who play a high energy, grunge-crusted brand of rock n roll characterized by discordant vocal harmonies a la 'Facelift' era Alice in Chains.  Their debut album, 'Supervolcano' was released in early March and is deserving of some wider attention and acclaim.

The first thing you notice, is the clean production sound and sharp performances on the record.  'Supervolcano' gets off to a rolling start with three quick, high energy, fast paced tracks, then crests the top of the hill on "Grinding Down the Sun" and there are no brakes.  Closing track "Mars" hits the NOX and the listener is convinced that this album can and will blast off into outer space.

Death Ape Disco's use of high harmonies is often striking, the chords they hit upon are momentous and bold, they are the runway from which the album takes off.  One part Beach Boys, one part Alice in Chains, one part Black Crowes, but distinctly Death Ape.  By the time "Grinding Down The Sun" plays out, it's clear that this is the band's signature, these complex harmonies take over the entire affair, before arriving at the band's eponymous track, which is dominated by close harmonies.  Vocalist Rob Rainford is joined by guitarist Kit Brice to amazing effect, providing an unholy amount of momentum to the affair.  It's a tricky balancing act to have to pull off, especially live, which is why, I suspect, the technique isn't often used by underground bands.  When a band gets it right, it's impressive and terrific.  When they fall a bit wide of the mark, the sound can veer towards ... Nickelback territory.  Fortunately, this band gets it right far more often than not.

Photo taken from
Not to be overshadowed by the vocals however, instruments actually do play a part here.  Riffs are fast-paced, drums deliver groove by the ton and the band has plenty of stomp despite their tendency to sprint.  Sometimes the guitar work has the tendency to wind and twist like the roots of a tree pushing through pavement, a few more solos would be welcome and one gets the feeling twin headed string tickling monster Brice and Boulstridge have a few great ones in them, but the lack of solos does little to diminish the power and spectacle of the album as a whole.  Mostly the songs are too tightly structured to allow for such flights of pyrotechnic fancy.  On a similar note, drum fills are kept largely to the beginnings of tracks rather than interspersed throughout.  The fact that the band can tightly structure their songs however speaks quite well of their craftsmanship.

At the end of the day, 'Supervolcano' is a terrific hard rock album infused with more than a touch of grunge and southern metal in the C.O.C., B.L.S. vein.  It will surely get the blood pumping through that mangy old corpse and I would recommend this album to anyone with even a passing interest in rock music from the nineties and beyond.

Highlights include: "Kingdom of Others" and "Death Ape Disco"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 34:10

Rob Rainford - vocals
Kit Brice - guitar, vocals
James Boulstridge - guitar
Sam Curtis - monkeybass
Harry Lehane - drums

From: Brighton, UK

Genre: Hard Rock, Stoner, Grunge, Southern Metal

Reminds me of: Alice in Chains, Fen, Mexicoma, VolumeFeeder

Release Date: March 6, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Get in your shopping cart and roll down from the very top of the hill.  Pick up whatever mangled limbs remain, push cart back up to the top of the hill.  Repeat.

Better Review:
Stoner Hive

Death Ape Disco facebook

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