After a lauded 7″ and much YouTube embedding leading to retro-rock hyperbole, the Britisher-than-thou trio Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell emerge with their cheekily-titled Rise Above (Metal Blade in the States) debut full-length, Don’t Hear it… Fear it! Flourishes of blown-out analog psychedelia persist, and their vintage aesthetique runs (mop-)top to (bell-)bottom, but whether it’s the motor-groove of “Mark of the Beast” or the brash fuzz of “The Last Run,” the Hastings threesome of Louis Comfort-Wiggett (bass/backing vocals), Bill Darlington (drums; also of Gorilla) and Johnny Gorilla (guitar/vocals; also of Gorilla) show there’s more to them than charm and fancy pants.
Liken the album to Atomic Rooster‘s proto-prog, Sir Lord Baltimore‘s ballsy brew or the MC5‘s nigh-on-stunted recklessness — you won’t be wrong; there’s room for all in Don’t Hear it… Fear It!‘s 54-minute course — what I find infinitely more fascinating is that Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell aren’t merely content to pretend that the 40 years between 1972 and now didn’t happen. “Red Admiral Black Sunrise” works in a Melvins-type guitar chug along with Johnny Gorilla‘s brash, almost arrogant, lead work. You can hear a bit of it underscoring the freakout in “iDeath” as well, and even the vocals take on a snotty post-Buzzo cadence in “Scratchin’ & Sniffin’,” so even if the trio’s predominant vibe is vinyl, there’s a bit of cassette tape in there as well.
Of particular note is Comfort-Wigget‘s stellar performance on bass, which makes for an excellent response to Gorilla‘s many shredding solos and renders the Sabbath-ian war pigsery of “Devil’s Island” all the more accurate. The record builds up some considerable momentum and never really relents in terms of pace, so while “The Last Run” and “Killer Kane” don’t bring anything new, they’re shorter than the earlier songs and the performances carry them, particularly in the case of “Killer Kane,” which comes four tracks after the “Killer Kane (Reprise).” Oh, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. So unpredictable!
They round out with seven minutes of quiet that give way to the potent stomp ‘n’ groove of “Bean Stew,” a Buffalo cover that makes their roots even plainer to see. Their name may be awkward (though historically accurate) and the hype around their album may be overblown, but there’s some meat to Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell‘s Don’t Hear it… Fear it! that proves worthy of the suggestion that yeah, you should probably do the first part and actually listen to the damn thing. Whether or not you fear it afterwards depends I suppose on the natural levels of terror that classic heavy rock inspires in you.
Tags: Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell Don't Hear it... Fear it, heavy rock, Metal Blade, Rise Above Records, UK