By: Jay Hampshire
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/02/2017
Label: 10 South Productions
“Spirit of Tradition” CD//DD track listing:
1). Road King
2). The Past Is Dead
3). Come Find Me
5). One Night
6). Loaded Up
We don’t have to tell you that Vermilion Whiskey are from South Louisiana – it’s plain enough from the booze-and-blues soaked riffing of their latest release, ‘Spirit Of Tradition’. Six slices of southern fried hard-rock, executed with the kind of honest bar-rock conviction you’d expect to find from a self-confessed ‘working man’s band’.
‘Road King’ grabs you by the collar of your denim jacket and shoves your face right into the bargain CD bin of every hard-rock cliché imaginable. Rote lyrics, overly dramatic guitar gymnastics and slightly mumbling, crooning vocals let you know exactly what you’re in store for. ‘The Past Is Dead’ kicks off promisingly enough with an urgent, muted guitar riff, but that’s quickly nixed when all the tempo is bled out of it like a stuck pig. It winds down into a template mid-tempo groover, before a stilted galloping section and cringe worthy spoken-word vocals bloat things out so the track more than overstays its’ welcome.
‘Come Find Me’ features some decent throaty bass rumbles and steadily building toms, but the records lacklustre production job sees the low end buried under sloppy layers of slightly tinny guitars. A little more punch on the bass and drums could have done the band a lot of dynamic favours. The moody ‘Monolith’ builds slowly, with jangling guitars, lush cymbals and decent layering, but seems to want to rush too quickly into upbeat, riffier waters, rather than letting things breathe and develop.
‘One Night’ stops and starts before winding up to a Black Stone Cherry-esque mid-tempo roll that contains the lyrics, shit you not, “I drink whiskey and I cry”. Closer ‘Loaded Up’ is movement heavy, with lots of ascending and descending runs among the scratchy riffs, speeding up frantically before ending hard, and being immediately forgotten.
If you caught Vermilion Whiskey in their natural surroundings, namely a slightly scuzzy, nameless bar somewhere in the Southern USA, they’d provide an evening of worthy entertainment. Their musicianship is solid, if derivative, and there’s a sense of honesty about it – no pretence or high art here. Taken out of this context, however, they are template at best, boring at worst, doing nothing to challenge neither the listener nor the trappings of 70’s bluesy hard rock. According to ‘Road King’, “momma used to say turn that music down”. It might not be ‘rock ‘n’ roll’, but we wish they’d listened to her.
“Spirit of Tradition” is available here