Curious name, The Ugly Kings. Let’s face it, who wants to be an Ugly King? Richard III was pretty ugly, and that didn’t work out none too well for him (mind you, Henry VIII was also pretty ugly and he had a whale of a time, so maybe there’s something in it after all). Anyhow, I digress. The Ugly Kings are a power Blues quartet hailing from Melbourne, Australia and whilst their influence list heroically avoids all mention of AC/DC, when you throw the likes of Muddy Waters, BB King, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath in a blender, it’s hard not to draw at least a basic comparison with Australia’s favoured sons, although there’s no question that The Ugly Kings come from a darker, bluesier place altogether.
The two-track EP opens with the title track, ‘promised land’, a four-minute beast that sounds like the Rival Sons and the Graveltones going head-to-head with John Bonham and Jim Morrison. With multiple riffs and deft twists and turns, it sounds fantastic and, between Rusty, whose vocals ring out with the maniacal fire of Glenn Danzig, and Andy, whose drums threaten to blow your speaker cones, the band do a fantastic job of fulfilling their mission statement of delivering emotionally-charged music in a world that all-too-often seems to favour blandishment over sheer, Iggy-esque power. In stark contrast, ‘Wash me of my sins’ heads off into the near-psychedelic blues of Nick Cave with reverb-washed guitar giving way to acapella vocals and, eventually, a neat shuffle that showcases a lightness of touch not immediately apparent on the title track.
A simple, two-track effort, ‘Promised land’ is the most tantalising of tasters from a band who hold much promise. Tom Glover has done a fantastic job of cramming the band’s nervous energy into the recording and the band themselves were wise to showcase two very disparate sides on this all-too-brief outing. With word that a full-length is in the works, it’s clear that The Ugly Kings are heading for the top, catch them before they get there! 9