Fast paced debut bulls-eye!
Denmark has a few traditional disciplines: Sea-faring and metal being some of those, and the quartet from the country’s biggest industrial port-city Esbjerg, promised good things to come back in August 2016, when I had the privilege of a preview of their coming debut.
Well, now the album is finished, and it’s 200% better than I had hope it to be. Wow. Just…Wow!
It’s like a mix of Skid Row, Pearl Jam and Mötley Crüe, but refined to a pure potion of potent hard rock with its own unique signature. With singer Niels Beier sounding like an angry Eddie Vedder (hence the Pearl Jam comment above), he never tries to sound like somone else, which is an achievement today. The songs are raw, honest southern-style rock’n’roll, and next summer’s festivals should take note.
There’s definitely a modern feel (thanks to the 2016 production), and all of the songs are well kept within the overall theme of the album, but are still different enough that you can easily tell them apart, and thus keeping things interesting throughout.
The intro “Someone Else” has the same qualities as the previously reviewed “Mad Dog” (which of course is also on this album). Headbang-inducing and in-your-face, rippin’ guitars, angry vocal range, lots of cymbal and splash rides from the drums, and the deepest bass. “Enough On My Plate” is also harder than the rest, but is somewhat slower “….I’ve got enough as it is….”, screams Niels Beier.
What sets this album apart, is the fact that the songs are about everyday stuff – lost relationships, crazy dudes down on the docks, frustrations and love. Black Oak County’s peers from the 80-90’s sang about girls and alcohol, which of course was fitting for that era. How many songs can you write about what’s happening in a somewhat sleepy industrial harbour town? A lot, apparently, and it bears witness of real songwriting skills.
“The Bogeyman”, also reviewed in its acoustic incarnation back in August, has turned out as expected from that acoustic version. More signature-sound, but still its own – awesome!
With “Save Me”, “Rated R For Redneck” and “Laughing With The Cows”, Black Oak County pays tribute to their American Southern hard rock inspirations, with slide guitar and thrilling guitar neck-runs, almost resembling banjos in some cases. Lynyrd Skynyrd comes to mind here.
No album is complete without a ballad. “If You Only Knew” is very dear to Beier, evident in how he passionately executes the lyrics on this, and having seen the live performance in the acoustic preview a few months ago.
Ending with a couple of hard songs again – “Nothing To Say” and “Never Cared”, the former has an interesting main riff, carried by a well placed phaser effect, combined with another flawless guitarsolo from Jack Svendsen. “Never Cared, the last one on the 10-track debut, has clever and playful choir accents in the choruses, and a fat deep bass. The guys clearly play a little more with the tempos on this one, and the second half of the song seems like a natural and very well-rounded ending of either the album.
This is all something to be proud of, and I think Black Oak County deserves all the success that can come their way. Plus, I’m excited to hear what the follow up album will sound like. Even though this one won’t be released until January 13. 2017, it’s gonna be an interesting journey to follow, and see how Black Oak County mature.
Release: January 13. 2017 on Mighty Music, distributed throughout the world via Target Group. If you are in Copenhagen on the 13th., visit the High Voltage Rock Club, where the release party will take place, or the day after in Esbjerg. Both shows are supported by Libido Overdrive which has previously played at High Voltage Copenhagen.
You can pre-order this bombshell of a debut on Target-Group’s webshop.
While you wait, check out Black Oak County on their Facebook page, and check out the hard-hitting “Mad Dog” below: