Monday, December 06, 2010

Music Album Review: Blood and Fire by The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster

Fancy listening to something new? Get this album; it’s worth the risk.

The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster (abbreviated now to TEMBLD) returned this summer after a 6-year album hiatus with Blood and Fire. One again this band has failed to captivate a wide audience, sales weren’t great, they’ve barely been on the telly, and there’s been no advertisement. But hey, TEMBLD never make it easy for themselves do they!
Before I get into the meat of this review let me give you a quick biography of this band, if you have never heard of them. TEMBLD are a gothabilly band, it’s probably the best bracket to place them in. They’re like a fusion of The Birthday Party and The Cramps, revved up and spat out into today’s indie music scene. They are a breath of fresh air, mixing roaring vocals, chainsaw guitars and almost indecipherable lyrics. This band kicks fucking ass. But unfortunately for them, their influences are coming up to thirty years old (jeez it’s really been that long…) so they aren’t popular. It also doesn’t help that they really publicise their great music talents and inspirations, and love their hometown of Brighton too much and gig there very often.

They have had a few chances to make the big time, they have toured with some damn good bands, being System of a Down and The Queens of the Stone Age (TQotSA). Hell, The Royal Society (their second album, released 2004) was produced by a fine producer named Chris Goss, who has produced great albums by TQotSA as mentioned before, Kyuss, Auf der Maur, The Cult, and U.N.K.L.E.. “Shaun of the Dead” actor Simon Pegg’s a big fan, and has “Mister Mental” in said film. They are also on the Gran Turismo 4 soundtrack, a very popular video game at the time, with “Psychosis Safari”.

Yet is hasn’t happened. It’s a double whammy of disappointment, they don’t try hard enough to get their name out there, and not enough people are interested in seeking them out. Shucks. But for the people who are interested, they have now released attempt #3 at “making it”. Unfortunately it seems this attempt isn’t third time lucky, but once again, it’s a solid outing. That’s three in three in terms of great albums, but three in three in terms of commercial failures. Some bands just don’t get their break!
We start the album off with “Love Turns to Hate”, a song I was quite familiar with beforehand, as I heard their demo of the track a good four or five years ago. This is a crisper, more complete version of that demo, and is also their staple single. If you have heard their material before, quite simply, you will like this, the familiar sounding buzz guitars are evident whilst singer Guy McKnight howls the chorus. It’s a great opener that sucks you into the album straight away.

But then, things change. We are then treated to “Mission From God”, which twists their formula a bit. Those howling vocals from McKnight, they change into melody. I mean I say melody in quite a harsh understanding; he isn’t Freddy Mercury (sorry if you ever read this Guy!). But we are treated to another transition in this band. You see, they also did it with “The Royal Society”, TEMBLD aren’t afraid to change their styles around, that transition was from edgy punk to goth. This transition is more changing from goth to a blend of new wave and indie, maybe, dare I say it, possibly some emo. But it’s good; in fact it’s great. So we continue down this road to track 3, which is the second single, “So Long Goodnight”, which is the closest we have so far to a ballad by the band. It’s a beautifully sung song by McKnight, and the lyrics are great too, my fiancĂ©e claims only Guy McKnight can get away with saying “hun” in a ballad! This isn’t your regular ballad, well TEMBLD aren’t your regular band. It doesn’t take long for the song to start the heavy base that is easily identifiable with their sound, and ruins any romantic notion that they started. But it doesn’t matter, TEMBLD don’t follow the rules, and they always get away with it, just. “So Long Goodnight” is a fantastic listen, for odd reasons.
It’s only when we get to “Monsieur Cutts” when we get this band’s old sound back. And what a song it is. If you have ever heard “Horse of the Dog”, their first effort, and loved it, you’ll feel right at home with this track. Guy screams the lyrics to a frenetic baseline; it’s a fantastic homage to their old self. But then the album reverts back to the new sound. It doesn’t take long until we get to “Man for All Seasons” which a bizarre way of describing is a like a combination high school disco and moshing. It’s just a sweet track, definitely my favourite on the album, it’s hard not to move to it, which is something you don’t get often with this band. The album finishes with “Are You Living”, which is another slower (I wouldn’t ever say the word slow for any of their songs!) track by the band, which brings the album full circle with their new style.

TEMBLD’s third effort is not like their second, or their first. They have made three very different albums, each with a slight diverse feel, but all as great as each other. You could argue that this is their most polished album yet, it’s the closest the band have got to an album that should please a casual audience, but this audience just don’t want to know them, which is a shame. “Blood and Fire” is definitely worth a listen; all the tracks are currently on Youtube for free (they might get taken down in the future), so give a few songs a go. If you have never heard this band and fancy listening to something new, please, support this band; they’re more than worth a punt. I’d recommend this band to anyone who likes rockabilly, psychobilly, goth, industrial, punk, indie, new wave, and the obscure 1980’s sounding bands. They really do mix all the above genres brilliantly. Below is the video for the video for the first single, “Love Turns to Hate” (please excuse Guy McKnight’s Nick Cave moustache!) to start you off. Support this band!
Rating: ****1/4
Stand out tracks: Man for All Seasons, So Long Goodnight, Monsieur Cutts

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  1. I'm not a huge fan of this review. Not because I agree or disagree with your opinions. More because you seem to insist on banging on about 'mainstream' success. I don't think all artists are about 'making it'. It's not about that, certainly not with a band like TEMBLD. They have a loyal and solid fan base and do what they do like no other band. They do need the followers, and they should have them, plenty of people would like them. But you talk as, as good as this album is, it is a failure - your review gives the tone they have failed in what they set out to do ('make it') - I don't think that is the case, I doubt they care about that. However, maybe direct the readers to where they can buy it, instead of youtube. Just an idea.

  2. You make good points, I see where you're coming from. However I don't agree but let me address what you've said.

    Any band wants mainstream success. If you were to ask any member of this band, would they welcome success, sales to the album, interest from the U.S., they'd all grab it with two hands. Every band plays music for enjoyment, but also to try and make a living, if at all possible.

    Yes they have a loyal and solid fan base, I'm also a huge fan of this band, ever since I heard "Celebrate Your Mother" back in 2003. Was this album a failure? It depends. If you're asking the question if it made them any more accepted "mainstream" then a failure it was. I however I praised the album and the band, their new approach is welcome. This album is fantastic, I actually ironically listened to it again today. But it didn't sell well, so you could argue it's a failure. If TEMBLD only cared about its loyal and solid fan base, why did they release the album? Why, after 6 years, release an album? To get more attention. So yes, it is arguably a failure. It sucks though, it's not what I want.

    Your final point, why should I direct people where to buy an album available so easily on the internet, or in stores? I've seen this album in HMV, months after its release, so it's not like it's hard to find. I put a link at the end of every review I do, and I put a link to the video, so if the person reading my review is interested in what I have said, and want to venture further interest, I have a link right there ready for them, for ease.

    The problem is I don't write my reviews for a particular audience, as you can see I have fingers in a few different pies. I write for the interest of anyone and everyone, so I'm addressing this band as a band that very few people have heard of. So in their eyes, yes, this album was a failure, but an unfortunate failure, a failure undeserved, as this is a great fucking band and a great fucking album. Thanks for your time.