PlanetMosh first crossed paths with Bristol rhythm and rollers Tax The Heat a little under two years ago, when they appeared at the Steelhouse festival at the tail end of July 2014, shortly after they had released their Chris (Masters Of Reality/Kyuss/QOTSA) Goss-produced debut EP. Turn the clock forward 20 months or so and, after an intense period of honing their craft live, the quartet are now preparing to cement their growing reputation with their debut full-length offering, this time with the equally acclaimed Evansson (famed for his work with the likes of Robert Plant and Siouxsie Sioux) at the helm.
And, as with their shorter debut offering, ‘Fed To The Lions’ was recorded live in the studio: yes, some of the songs were re-recorded on one or more occasions, but everything else about the album is music at it’s rawest… just four guys in the studio, playing together and producing a record with no overdubs or other needless use of unnecessary studio trickery.
And the rawness of that live experience is evident right from the opening whump of ‘Highway Home’: you can just visualize Alex Veale leaping into the opening chords, before the rest of the band punch their way in behind him. The track, like the rest of the album, is fuelled by Antonio Angotti’s huge bottom-ended bass sound, which thumps it way out of the speakers and grunts and growls in your inner earlobe with the ferocity of an angry bear who hasn’t eaten in a fortnight. He is complemented by the thick, and at times deliberately sparse, drumming of Jack Taylor, who leaves plenty of room for the songs to breathe, without cluttering up the sound with needless fills and frills, letting the silences in his playing scream as loudly as the music they support.
Another important element of this excellent rock ‘n’ roll cocktail are the fuzzed out guitars of Alex Veale and JP Jacyshyn, which punch with the accuracy and hunger of a heavyweight boxing champion defending his undefeated streak, yet also produce cascading, weaving melodies and harmonies which immediately inject the songs into the deepest recess of your memory cells faster than a Zika-infected mosquito bite. Veale’s vocals are suitably lush and urgent, and he has a good range which helps to exacerbate the richness of the tunes. The live nature of the recordings also gives the songs an energy and bounce which inevitably may well have been lost through over-production.
Tax The Heat’s influences very clearly lie in the British rock ‘n’ blues scene of the late Sixties, as well as the stoner and alt-rock vibes of three decades later, as their sound runs the gamut from The Kinks and Cream through to the aforementioned Kyuss to White Stripes, Black Keys and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The result is an album with a classic sensibility yet a modern edge, one which draws upon the heritage which its creators so obviously curate with affection yet oozes a vibrant relevance.
Highway Home / Animals / Under Watchful Eye / Fed To The Lions / Hit Me Hard / Stood On The Platform To Leave / Some Sympathy / Devil’s Daughter / Learn To Drown (You’re Wrong) / Caroline / Your Fool / Lost Our Way
Recommended listening: Under Watchful Eye / Stood On The Platform To Leave
‘Fed To The Lions’ is released by Nuclear Blast on Friday 8 April. It will be available on CD and limited edition gatefold vinyl.