Every now and again a significant sounding record has the ability to channel history through its music, delivering with it a lesson of sorts while summoning a lump of original interest from the listener. The debut record from The Apocalypse Blues Revue does just that, and in 2016 the band have cultivated a debut self-titled record comprised of heavy-set blues music with brutal modernist impulse and influential execution. The blues quartet is made up of Godsmack drummer Shannon Larkin and guitarist Tony Rombola, as well as vocalist Ray “Rafer John” Cerbone and bassist Brian Carpenter. It’s a spinning collection of intoxicating guitar moments, crisp percussion storms, vigorous bass lines and evil vocals that will have you replaying for weeks.
Hard, rough and in your face blues music, vintage, rustic and sincerity are poked from all corners of this diamond in the rough record. Evil Is As Evil Does, the record’s opener – propels a thick, thumping bluesy groove and distinctive musical bad-assery, while Junkie Hell offers a slower, delta blues infusion complete with a chunky cadence and instrumental accuracy that’s influential beyond measure. “Lost My Woman to the Needle, Lost My Woman to the Spoon”, he confesses. The Devil Plays A Strat is easily one of the most distinguished and heavy moments on the record. Reminiscent of early Black Sabbath, it smashes around with a growling ferocity that seems to scatter into the other tracks on the album. Edgy guitar solo transmissions in I Think Not meet with jaunty drum hurls, furthering the effective old school blues momentum. These exacting measures stimulate the sensations, donning a fortitude that emanates from the album’s core. Whiskey In My Coffee is a critical melting pot of bluegrass, modernist blues – exhibiting a total strength that morphs into a stabilised and groovy control. The heavy-set spirit visited in Crossed Over would make any fans of Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan nod with hearty appreciation, while Blues Are Fallin’ From The Sky tremendously adheres to a tempo switching beauty, glorifying the natural bluesy drive heard in the ardent vocals and sharp instrumentation. Then there’s the cemented feeling of hard rock force underpinned in the ferocious energy of Blue Cross – gripping to a sharpness and resilient intensity before displaying a jungle, samba latin percussive vibe as the track winds down.
The full scope of the record is shadowed by the ability for these career musicians to bring a charismatic, heavy and dynamic sound to 2016. There’s an obvious traditional flexibility that The Apocalypse Blues Revue have channelled in their record, executing this well with a noble and charming appetite that maintains it’s overall musical authority. With an impressive debut record now under their belt, one can only hope there’s more output from this beastly band. For now, we have a record to listen and re-listen to over and over again.