On April 15, UK power trios Gorilla and Grifter will team up for the Gorilla vs. Grifter split LP on HeviSike Records. While the title is somewhat adversarial, pitting one band against the other in a bid for some kind of rock supremacy, at least as far as the 12″ platter goes, actually listening to the thing, the battle playing out would seem to make Gorilla and Grifter vs. Bullshit a more accurate title. Neither band has much time for it in their four presented tracks, Gorilla digging into thickened Motörhead-style drive from the start of “Both Barrels” and Grifter grooving out thick and nasty on the harmonica and slide-laden “Hi Waisted,” just one of the locked in riff rollers on offer throughout the 32-minute outing, and if there’s a running theme to be found between their work — aside, you know, from being heavy — it’s the straightforward, frills-need-not-apply attitude and sense of righteousness with which each band executes its material, whether that’s Gorilla asking “how much can ya take?” on “Grind Yer Down” or Grifter coming right out and extending the invitation “kiss my ass!” on closer “Me Love.”
For Gorilla, their portion of Gorilla vs. Grifter follows an appearance in 2015 on Who Can You Trust? Records‘ Sweet Times Vol. 2 (review here) split, which introduced the track “Three Squealer” that also makes a showing here. The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Johnny Gorilla (also The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell), bassist Sarah Jane and drummer Ryan Matthews may not ultimately be throwing down with Grifter, but neither does one get the sense they’d back off if it came to blows of any sort, particularly perhaps in some London back alley, shattered glass on the ground, throwing drunken, lurching punches. Their core is in the aforementioned Motörheadery, but second cut “Slay Rider” dips back on the throttle and nestles into a smooth nod, vocals shouted through a dense wall of fuzz, before “Grind Yer Down” picks up the pace once again and careens toward the riotous finish of “Three Squealer,” on held together through the low end as guitars drop out during the verses en route to a winding chorus delivered with punk-rooted abandon, which of course suits Gorilla well, each of their tracks dealing in one way or another with motion, whether it’s blasted out of a shotgun to tearing ass down a highway. Don’t, however, take their palpable recklessness as a lack of songwriting.
When it comes to that — we’re talking about songwriting; keep up — Grifter have long since proven themselves choice purveyors. Their last album, 2014’s The Return of the Bearded Brethren (review here), pushed them past the decade mark, and while their side of Gorilla vs. Grifter is rawer than was that record, it finds them continuing to add to their established, straightforward heavy rock style. That shows itself notably in vocal arrangements. Guitarist/vocalist Ollie Stygall, bassist Phil and drummer Foz have never been shy when it comes to writing hooks as any of their releases will attest, but while the production on “Failing Asleep,” “Paige Turner,” “Hi Waisted” and “Me Love” is more stripped down than was the last record, there’s subtle layering and not-so-subtle backing vocals, especially on “Paige Turner” and the harmonized chorus of “Hi Waisted,” that only make the tracks catchier. Grifter‘s form has never needed screwing with and it still doesn’t, but as they progress beyond their second LP, their sound is vibrant and the growth they demonstrate in these tracks — while still writing songs about porn stars — makes one look forward all the more to where they might go next. Like Gorilla, they are in and out, quickly, efficiently, and without time wasted, but each song offers something to stand it out from the others, and even if it’s a quick check-in from Grifter, that’s well appreciated.
A mastering job by the perpetually-busy Tony Reed (Mos Generator) ties the bullshit-combating Gorilla vs. Grifter together, and today I have the pleasure of hosting the debut of Grifter‘s “Failing Asleep” from the split. You can hear it on the player below, followed by some more info on the release.
Gorilla vs Grifter
A new split album from two of the UK’s hottest power trios.
Released 15th April 2016 on HeviSike Records
Artwork by Maarten Donders
Gorilla vs Grifter will be the second in a planned series of split albums released through HeviSike, following 2015’s Mos Generator // Stubb split release.
The album has been mastered by Tony Reed (Mos Generator) and features a unique cover designed by Dutch artist Maarten Donders, known for his poster designs for Blues Pills and Roadburn Festival amongst others.
Available as a limited edition vinyl record in two colour-ways, Gorilla vs Grifter will be available to pre-order from Friday 1st April ahead of its 15th April release date.
Colour vinyl options:
Gold – (limited to 100 copies, hevisike.com exclusive)
Yellow / Blue Marbled
The album will be distributed by Plastic Head Distribution in the UK & Europe and by MVD Entertainment in North America. Gorilla vs Grifter will be available digitally through bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify and other digital outlets.Gorilla, Gorilla Grifter Split, Gorilla vs Grifter, Grifter, HeviSike Records, UK