Album Review – Cirque Du Sleaze by Sal Vitro
Having met on a modelling shoot in Dublin in 2011, Josh Dunford, Owie Lumsden, John Cuddy and Rourke Bradley began their musical journey as Sal Vitro. The gritty blues rock sound they boasted quickly earned them attention, and since the bands’s inception, they have supported the likes of Thin Lizzy, Richie Sambora and Jeff Beck, to name a few. Having relocated to London, they are finally releasing their long awaited debut album, Cirque Du Sleaze.
Kicking things off in a truly gritty fashion, album opener ‘Strange Friends & Peculiar Enemies’ is a strong statement of intent, with a filthy bass hook leading to a slick guitar riff that would make Jack White blush. The vocals are impressively tailored to the blues rock sound, and sound as good as any of their contemporaries. Dunford’s voice has a great natural rasp to it, all while maintaining a very melodic tone. ‘The Gettin’ Older Casanova’ is more poppy in its melody and guitar work, and sounds more like a Bon Jovi song than a filthy blues rock band. The harmonies in the chorus are catchy, and a spacey mid song breakdown gives the vocals room to breathe before the final explosive chorus.
Next tracks ‘It’s Not Love’ and ‘For You’ are also more poppy, particularly the latter, which boasts a great singalong chorus and a gentle swaying verse. In more stripped back tracks like this, Dunford’s vocals prove he is more than just your average blues rock singer. The sense of melody here is infectious, and the cleverly placed strings instrumentation brings the track to life. After a short but sweet slide guitar driven number, ‘Swear By Your Love’ puts any worries to bed that the grit of the first track was all we were in store for. Built on a riff designed to shake buildings, the energy that brought the band success is showcased to the max. Fuzzy bass and a powerful vocal in the verse drive perfectly straight into the powerhouse of a riff that serves as a chorus. After a more than impressive solo full of tasty bends, it’s easy to identify this tune as a strong highlight.
After the ZZ Top sounding stomp of ‘The Party Hard Smoker’ comes the album’s first single. ‘Wear it Out’ is a groovy number with a soaring vocal and some very impressive weaving guitar leads. The chorus does a good job of utilising the memorable pop melody that a single needs, as well as the dirty guitar sound that always works so well for them. The refrain of ‘Don’t you wear me down’ could easily be heard on the radio, and has all the qualities of a successful single. The slow and eerie title track of Cirque Du Sleaze draws the album to a close, and draws you in with the alluring story telling of Dunford’s smooth vocals. The hauntingly beautiful instrumentation adds to the unnerving atmosphere created by the story of this horrible place where ‘once you’re in, you never leave’. An interesting and unexpected way to end the album to say the least.
Sal Vitro have without a doubt released one of the most impressive Irish debut albums of the year, and should be immensely pleased. Their well crafted blues rock sound is a hard one to make original, but they have done it in an effortless fashion. While the album is not without a couple of more forgettable tracks due to a small dip in energy, the overall sound is huge. Main stage slots at the festival circuit are surely in this band’s future.
Cirque Du Sleaze is released on 13 July.
Review by Finn O’Reilly