New Secret Weapon’s Debut Album – Review


new-secret-weaponThey’ve been on the go for nearly seven years and now, New Secret Weapon have finally released their debut album.

After a fateful meeting at KnockanStockan all those years ago, the band have spent their time honing their craft on stages all over Ireland and the UK and on the evidence of this album, this has been time well spent.

Helmed by Rian Trench of Solar Bears, the self titled long player from the Dublin three-piece is a hard album to define. Elements of metal, punk, blues, prog and psychedelica are all thrown into the mix to create a truly unique yet familiar sound. Shifting tempos are another trademark of the album; just as you think a song is going one way, the tempo changes and brings the song off into a crazy new direction. It’s a device that keeps the tunes interesting and marks the band out from other bands with a similar sound. The band half been compared to Queens of the Stone Age but perhaps Josh Homme’s other group, Them Crooked Vultures, might be closer to the mark.

Songs like the funky trip out of ‘Tea Party’ and recent single ‘Look At The State Of It’ kick the album off in fine style. Guitars and groovy bass are cranked up high but in spite of the heavy riffs, the band haven’t forgotten about melody, with guitarist and singer David Griffin’s voice easily transitioning from howls to near whispered menacing vocals throughout the album.

‘Wild One’ is the stand out track of the first half of the album. Jumping from time signature to time signature, the song features several extended, spacey guitar rushes that herald the more ambitious second half of the album. This second half features not one, but two seven minute epics and both are mightily impressive.

‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ is full of chunky riffs and hysterical vocals before an extended breakdown that leads back in to a playfully chaotic outro. Elsewhere, ‘Rose’ is nearly eight minutes of shrieking riffs, crashing drum fills from Trevor Keogh and edgy bass rumblings from bass player Mark O’Connor. In less skilled hands both of these tunes could have ended up as overblown pretentious messes but the band manage make such undertakings look easy.

With the bluesy ‘Funeral Marsh’ wrapping things up, this is one of the finest Irish albums released this year. These guys have taken their time before committing music to record and that is perhaps a lesson to other bands that they don’t need to rush to release music and should take time honing their craft. The sheer scale of the sound is breathtaking and those who listen to this album will certainly be wanting to catch the band live to have this monster sound ring in their ears.

Fortunately the band are playing a host of Irish festivals over the summer. They have dates confirmed for Vantastival, Sea Sessions, KnockanStockan and Electric Picnic amongst others. By the time they play these dates they are sure to have an army of new fans thanks to this stunning record.


Mark O'Brien

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