KING HOWL QUARTET (s/t) CD
These four guys from Sardinia have the delta blues in their blood, there's no doubt about that. And they have a good taste, because their self-titled debut album includes cover versions from Blind Willie Johnson and Skip James. But like The Groundhogs or Led Zeppelin, they play the blues loud and electrified. On this basis, one might assume that KING HOWL QUARTET is just another retro act, who puts a lot of effort into recreating the old blues rock from the early 1970s, but that doesn't apply to them. It is more the case that this act has a modern sound, without once having the feel of it being a pastiche. However, I must admit that I am not very happy with the production of the album. To me, it's the weak point here. It lacks the earthiness which is so important for music like this. Instead, there's a pompous, overblown production that just doesn't want to fit the music.
Fortunately, some of the songs are so good that I can overlook this in certain moments. The first two songs, 'Mornin'' and 'No Flame', have plenty of energy and some nice hooks as well. Diego Pani's natural vocal style forms a nice contrast to the raging gutar riffs, while the rhythm section knows how to convince with tight grooves. These two cuts are definitely my favourites from the album, because KING HOWL QUARTET shows lots of potential here. I was really curious about the cover of Blind Willie Johnson's 'Trouble Soon Be Over', because I'm a huge fan of his work and I really dig that tune. Well, KING HOWL QUARTET didn't replay it as accurately as possible with the result that is sounds more like Soundgarden, except for the vocals. On the one hand, it was a nice idea to add something very different to the original cut, but on the other hand all the depth and emotion is gone.
I for my part prefer 'Nocturne', which sounds like a cross between Koko Taylor's 'Up In Flames' and The Doors' 'Moonlight Drive' (only with different vocals). The cover version of 'John The Rev.' is also very nice and I like the short sample of Howlin Wolf's voice in the middle of the song. All in all, this album isn't pure gold, but it's a solid debut of powerful blues rock. I only hope that KING HOWL QUARTET will record their next album in another studio...