Bath quartet The Heavy returns after nearly four years to follow-up their 2012 album The Glorious Dead with the release their fourth studio album, Hurt & The Merciless.
Opener ‘Since You Been Gone’ is a funky number with a rousing beat throughout, and a tasty guitar riff alongside Kelvin Swaby’s soulful vocal sets the bar very high. The opening horns sound familiar but add to the vibe, alongside the gospel backing vocals that come in as the track crescendos with the chant “the rain-drops won’t stop falling… from my eyes”. Dark but moving, and by the time ‘What Happened To The Love?’ kicks in my tail-feather is shaking. Again, there is familiarity to the sound with the deep-south inspired backing vocals reminding of The Black Crowes (‘Southern Harmony’) and Stereophonics (‘Madame Helga’). Great stuff all the same!
‘The Apology’ is a highpoint, literally, with a falsetto vocal over a hypnotic groove as the band funk-out, think James Brown on speed. ‘Nobody’s Hero’ slams the brakes on as the pace slows to near standstill. Thankfully, ‘Miss California’ follows and with its haunting lyrics “your ballroom days are over, it’s getting hard to hide” combined with a western sound and death march ending is one of the standout tracks on the album. With The Heavy well known for contributions to both TV and film, this outstanding track seems destined for a future soundtrack and would be a perfect fit should Tarantino ever decide to explore the dark world of beauty pageants.
‘Slave To Your Love’ is another highpoint with Kelvin’s vocal feeding off guitarist Dan Taylor’s dynamic sound with drummer Chris Ellul and bassist Spencer Page’s groove reminiscent of early Red Hot Chili Peppers. With a forthcoming tour and two appearances at California’s Coachella festival in the diary, 2016 could be the year The Heavy achieve mainstream success.
Hurt & The Merciless is released on 1st April via Counter Records.