Dirty Sound Magnet – ‘What Lies Behind’ Album Review


Whilst readers of the Guardian may be content to declare rock either dead or tedious (or both, depending on which blandly offensive and monumentally misinformed article you’re inclined to read), if the rampant success of the recent Slash albums and solo tours, the stunning work of the Rival Sons and the heartfelt blues of Joe Bonamassa and Danny Bryant prove anything, it is that there is not only a demand for, but almost a addiction-addled craving for the blood, sweat and guts of real rock ‘n’ roll music. Whilst some might regard the endlessly repetitive chart fodder as the music of the future (and if it is, then for goodness sake someone help me to live in the past), discerning music fans (of which there are many) still turn to the work of fallible, excitable, innovative humans over the endless pro-tooled work of automatons every time. Of course rock music at the top end of the commercial scale is not necessarily something to be sneered at, but as it has been since time immemorial the place to look for the real blood and thunder  of heartfelt rock is the dark world of the underground, and a cursory glance should reveal the quite brilliant Dirty Sound Magnet, an earthen, bluesy hard rock band from Switzerland that pitch somewhere between the still-awesome Rival Sons and Led Zeppelin on the nine track exploration of the history of rock ‘what lies behind’. Make no mistake, this is vintage rock played with fire and fury by a band of long-haired reprobates whose mastery of their instruments is second only to their desire to bring the dense sound of vintage rock ‘n’ roll to the masses.

Opening track ‘blind memory’ does everything that Audioslave should have done on their debut, with its blistering riff and Jeff Buckley-channelling-Robert-Plant vocals inspiring a desire to simultaneously air-guitar and howl at the moon. Few bands have the power to inspire such a mad adrenalin rush, but Dirty Sound Magnet maintain this approach throughout, even whilst varying their sound wildly from track to track. ‘Heavy hours’ sees a slide guitar unleashed to powerful effect on a track that is pure, down ‘n’ dirty blues, the only concession to the forces of modernity being a crystal clear production job that renders the whole thing so clear you can easily imagine the band playing in your living room. ‘Mike’s awakening’ sees the band change style again, kicking out a bluesy jam fronted by Mick Jagger, detailing the twisted imagination of a psychopath. A personal favourite on the record is the subtle blues of ‘Mr Robert’ which sees the band heading back into straight Led Zeppelin territory for a heartfelt tribute to Robert Johnson that captures the atmospheric feel of blues at its best. The title track, in contrast, is a rock ‘n’ roll behemoth with a strident central riff designed solely to get you shaking the bits of you that most other rock ‘n’ roll bands simply don’t reach.

SO where does a hedonistic rock band head after grabbing you by the proverbial and swinging you around the room, leaving you dizzy with excitement? Well, in the case of Dirty Sound Magnet it is to the ecstatic wailing of ‘Dead end street’, a track that adds two parts Jeff Buckley to one part Zeppelin and comes up with a minor masterpiece, only to follow it up with the sleazy grind of ‘Hotel Goomba’, a track so funky it should come with an obligatory pair of sunglasses for all listeners. It’s cool, it’s smooth and its hotter than hotel Hades, the band revelling in their role as John Bonham channelling monsters of rock to the extent that you can only imagine the wild excesses of their after-show parties. Throw in a wah-soaked solo and heavy rock fans will be hooked for life, bowing at the altar of rock whilst Dirty Sound Magnet stand astride it, pissing into the font. ‘Our animal’ softens the mood somewhat after the previous songs’ white-hot excursions, for an acoustic track that sits firmly in ‘III’ territory. It’s a fine, slide-guitar led piece of music that draws the listener inexorably towards the lengthy conclusion that is ‘free castle town’, a seven minute exercise in stripped down atmospherics that brings to mind the sparseness of recent Bob Dylan album ‘tempest’ with its echoing guitars and sombre palette. It’s as if, with the rocking done, the band have to sit back, reflecting upon their work in a fashion that is far removed from the Bacchanalian pleasures of the opening tracks. It is a fine, album closer and indicative of the band’s multi-faceted song-writing skills.

If rock music is dead, then no-one told Dirty Sound Magnet, a band who rock harder than most, but, as with the very best bands, are equally unafraid to showcase a more sensitive side when the situation demands it. The instrumental work throughout is exemplary, and with only nine songs on offer there is absolutely no filler. If you’ve been thrilled by recent albums from Bonamassa, Slash, Rival Sons and their ilk, then this album is essential listening. Brash, bold and thoroughly entertaining, Dirty Sound Magnet stand atop the great colossus of rock, jeans bulging at the seams, and wail like Bon Scott channelling Muddy Waters – if that doesn’t sound cool to you, then surely only a lifetime collecting Coldplay albums awaits – for anyone else buy this release and do so now – you will not regret it.

Check it out right now!

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