Band: The Archaic Revival
Album: Rock n Roll Holocaust (2016)
Genre: traditional heavy metal, stoner rock
Where to buy: Bandcamp
First out the music review gate this year is Rock n Roll Holocaust, the 2016 debut of Australia’s The Archaic Revival. The eight songs on this album are full of fun filth. It’s very clear that singer and drummer Pete H wears a wry – if not outright lascivious – smile throughout this record, and no doubt he is joined in this by bassist Jimmy K and guitarist Davo X. There are so many crunchy, groovy riffs here, powering vocal melodies that drip with self-confidence. This is a band that knows exactly what it’s doing, and that just happens to be channeling Sabbath, Maiden, and Van Halen with a dash of Joan Jett. The album liner notes instruct the listener to “Take drugs and worship Satan, rock n rollers!!!” Everyone’s having fun at this party.
The opening sirens give way to a high energy and totally serviceable riff that forms the backbone of “Black Hole City,” a song that sets a high bar for clean production levels throughout. Nothing is hidden on this album, and though mistakes would be thrown into sharp relief in the case of anything less engaging, I had so much fun listening to the songs any mistakes I heard didn’t matter. Pete’s vocals wail and grind out of the corners of his mouth, buffeted by distorted wah and a good, round, and occasionally fuzzy bass. The melodies are contagious and so are the grooves, as your bobbing head will illustrate.
Davo X’s wah is excessive to the point of parody – of himself or of rock guitar writ large or of both. But it’s fun anyway, and I couldn’t help but smile as he chirps out a hilarious solo on the bridge of “Drug House” while Pete chants, “I wanna die, wanna die, wanna die” in such a cheerful way you feel like joining in. Davo’s distortion would be right at home in The Runaways. Little half-measure or less fills color in the sonic borders of the songs. The frenetic main riff of “Hologram Induction” is as close as the songwriting gets to something Ginger Baker might have done out in the desert, which is to say it’s nearly jazzy, with the sort of percussion Baker or Keith Moon would love. The riffs aren’t cutting edge, they’re simply cutting and perfect for what The Archaic Revival is doing.
A little steam is lost on the back half, but only a little. “Long Way Down” evokes a response to AC/DC’s similarly titled track and stylings, particularly with the chorus of backing vocals chanting the title over the bridge. “Black Massacre” edges on doom metal, though we’re saved from gutteral incomprehensibility as the most restrained track unfolds into a melodic power ballad, bridged with an 80s-style ramp-up of heavy distortion. Pete seems closer to achieving his earlier goal, now singing, “Even when I’m alive, I feel dead.” Keep up the good work. Next to last, “Morning Star” keeps the energy up with sex and Satan and the proggiest riff on the album. Davo gives us a Randy Rhoads moment in the solo, the audience chants, “Go! Go! Go!” and the album moves onto its final and title track, the last opportunity to yell “Hey! Hey! Hey!” along with Pete.
The band doesn’t want the album to end. Only on the last song do they allow themselves to extend breakdowns and explore structure. This actually makes you appreciate the not-immediately-apparent restraint of the previous songs. Self-indulgence is rock and roll, but it’s tiring before long. Here though, they’ve gained a fan: I didn’t want the album to end either.