By Carl Begai
Being the first to embrace an original band with a unique vision takes balls, because doing so is an exercise in uncertainty and fear of “What will everyone else think?” Famous Underground is that road test, you’re the deer in their headlights, and the impact is a skull-rattling reminder that a stand-alone identity in the here and now overshadows past glories and current blood-sucking music industry trends.
Or, if you prefer your promo without the formality, Famous Underground is one of those present day rarities that defies being dumped in the genre box. Fangs and all. A cross between Guns N’ Roses when they were mean (Appetite For Destruction) and latter-day non-suck Metallica (‘Sad But True’, ‘King Nothing’), Famous Underground is a heady mix of ’80s attitude and ’90s grit with former Slik Toxik frontman Nick Walsh at the helm. The man’s voice is still a big fuckin’ deal some 20 years on since ‘Helluvatime’ – a bigger deal, actually – and the songwriting is darker with more muscle behind it; a lot less hit-and-miss compared to the Slik days. The album is about hook-heavy thumping grooves rather than major up-tempo delivery, pumping out a rock-updated Black Sabbath stomp for songs like ‘Dead Weight’, ‘Necropolis’, ‘Overdrive’ and ‘Wheel Of Misfortune’, while recalling the Slik Toxik vibe only on tracks like ‘On Broken Wings’ and ‘Forever And A Day’. The album’s crowning glory is the serpentine ‘Mommy Is A Junkie’, easily one of the best songs Walsh has ever written (not including what’s coming with album #2). Cool to hear the band isn’t stuck in the good ol’ days, opting for identity rather than playing the nostalgia card.
It’s not a record that’s going to hit home with only a listen or two, but if you allow it to seep into your system Famous Underground leaves no room or reason for disappointment.
The tracklist is as follows:
‘Love Stands Still’
‘Forever And A Day’
‘Wheel Of Misfortune’
‘Mommy Is A Junkie’
‘On Broken Wings’
‘Hell To Pay’
‘Dead Weight’ (raw and unplugged)
‘On Broken Wings’ (alternate version)