On ‘The simplicity of the riff is key’, Grifter find themselves asking the most elemental question of all: “Since when was rock and roll supposed to be perfect?” Well, if you’ve been following SonicAbuse and checked out one of the many bands we champion (Black Rainbows, Steve Conte, Thee Oh Sees or JPT Scare band to name but few) you’ll appreciate the simple answer is: “it isn’t.” Rock and roll has always been more about passion, sweat and spit than about technical proficiency, no matter what the dark over-lords of the charts may have you believe and given the choice between the sterile, processed riffs of, say, Linkin Park or the down ‘n’ dirty groove of Grifter you’ll find me in the gutter with a quart of whiskey and my hair a-whirling any day.
Anyhow, having lectured you on the necessary traits of rock ‘n’ roll I find I have digressed somewhat from the disc in hand. “The simplicity of the riff is key” does exactly what it says on the tin: pure, over-driven rock with a southern groove, a slightly stoner-esque sound (think more Kyuss than Monster Magnet) and vocals that are delightfully free of the myriad studio effects that bands seem to believe actually enhances their sound. Kicking off with the almighty riff of ‘The voices’ which is not unlike Kyuss playing Rage against the machine covers, before Ollie’s smoky, soulful voice takes the whole thing in a blues direction via AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. Perfectly produced to be raw, but without sacrificing clarity it’s a great track with a chorus that should, if there’s any good left in the world, see fists pumping and the crowd singing when Grifter hit the stage in your area. A suitably blues solo adds depth to the track and the final riff sounds absolutely massive, which is just as well because ‘Blind Rat swarm’ is a belter of a track which almost eclipses the first effort sounding, as it does, a little like Metallica jamming on Corrosion of conformity in a swamp. It doesn’t take long to realise that for the adherents of this genre of music, Grifter are liable to fast become your new favourite band.
‘Pendulum’, the third track on this distressingly short EP, has an almighty groove to it and one of the best lyrical openings of recent days: “I don’t know what I want, but I know one thing, I don’t want you!” a charming sentiment which recalls the pre-grunge days when rock bands were, well, rock bands and not afraid of a little attitude. Couple that with a chorus that sounds heavier than a flock of elephants (can you have a ‘flock’ of elephants? I’ll have to Google that!) marching down the street, which just goes to show you don’t need a room full of high-end digital trickery to make a band sound decent, and a satisfying solo leading to the hefty gallop which closes the song. For any other band this might be considered a high point, but such is the outstanding quality throughout that picking a favourite tune is rendered rather redundant. As if to hammer that point home ‘I Jesus’ closes the EP with a shift in pace to an almost punk sound, with Ollie taking on the guise of deranged street preacher over a primordial clatter of garage rock and the band hammering away behind him as if possessed.
Grifter play in the best tradition of rock music; utterly free from the constraints of fashion, their music has the timeless quality of the classic band and their decision to record ‘warts and all’ shows that they have the charisma, ability and attitude to go far if they get the exposure they deserve. This is but a short taster of the great things to come, but while it is short it is also utterly flawless, a grimy, unpolished gem that will sit proudly in your collection next to the likes of Led Zeppelin, JPT Scareband and Motorhead without having to feel like the runt of the litter. It’s inspiring to find bands this good and this passionate about making music and I cannot recommend this EP highly enough.