More hot blues rock from ex-Carcass guitarist
This'll throw a few people no doubt. For those who didn't know, ex-Carcass/ex-Napalm Death guitarist Bill Steer has been a part of another band for, well, going on four releases now with Firebird's latest offering, Hot Wings, on the shelves of all good record stores right now. But don't be expecting Carcass Mk.2 or Napalm Death Mk.2. Firebird couldn't be any further removed from those seminal extreme metal acts. Firebird is as retro as all hell - think catchy, simple 70s rock along the lines of The Black Crows and you'd be getting pretty close to the mark.
Now, with that adjustment behind you, move onto the opening cut, Carousel, and flat out tell me that it doesn't rock the house like it should via a dirty, fuzzed up 70s groove? Damn straight it does and once again, with Steer's distinguishable vocal style stamped all over it, you know it's business as usual for Firebird (who is also made up of new bassist Harry Armstrong and long time drummer Ludwig Witt (Spiritual Beggars)). Solid and simple riffs define the catchy Good Times before the first appearance of a harmonica appears in the early 70's swinging groove of Misty Morning. A strong blues influence shines on Play The Fool before the very Black Crows sounding straight up good ol' rock 'n' roll of Horse Drawn Man provides the album's finest moment.
It's not all roses though with the up tempo backbeat of Overnight falling short of the mark, but all is soon forgiven with the slower, slide guitar driven Bow Bells and the once again Black Crows sounding rocker Flying Blind returning things to an even keel. The final two tracks continue the album's high standard with the slower and memorable I Wish You Well standing out head and shoulders above the album's instrumental finale, Needle In The Groove.
Whilst 70's inspired retro rock isn't something that will appeal to everyone, the Bill Steer factor goes along way in bringing this band to people's attention. Sure, it's nowhere near metal, but it is bloody good rock 'n' roll, and another fine example of the brilliance and dexterity of one of metal's more underrated and nowadays unheard of guitarists.
(Rise Above Records/Riot! Distribution)