Band Of Skulls - Himalayan Vinyl 2LP + Download
Band Of Skulls Himalayan Vinyl 2LP + Download
More than ever before, there are two schools of musical success story these days. Those riding a wave of almost instant gratification based on a blog hit gone viral, a reality show win or a particularly canny advert sync. And those who have taken the more traditional approach: gigging and grafting and slowly building their arsenal into a formidable sonic weaponry. The Southampton trio Band of Skulls - Russell Marsden (guitar, vocals), Emma Richardson (bass, vocals) and Matt Hayward (drums) - firmly fall in the latter camp, and Himalayan – the group’s third long player – is an album indebted to years of polishing, perfecting and whittling their skills into a core that packs an immediate and inimitable punch.
“This album feels like a coming of age record for the band because of the confidence in it," Marsden explains. "We really know our own sound now. On your second record you’re doubling your back catalogue, which is a bit stressful. Whereas on your third, you’re adding to your canon of work and they all start to interact and reference each other. We’re doing the MA of ourselves now.”
The band began work on Himalayan in Terminal Studios on London’s Bermondsey Street, where the trio spent the first few months of 2013 writing. With an almost-complete album written, they then decamped to State of the Ark Studios in Richmond to record with noted producer Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Cribs). And within less than two months, the group had managed to hone their strict vision for the album into something that fundamentally stayed true to their original ideas, but also allowed room for some interesting curveballs.
From the opening assault of recent single "Asleep At The Wheel," which the group say, “bridges the gap between the last record and this one” and represents Himalayan in terms of its “confidence and swagger,” to the gutsy, full-throttle riffs of the title track. "Hoochie Coochie's" seductive glam rock-isms to the expansive, echo-laden atmospherics of Richardson-fronted "Cold Sweat," the record begins in dramatic and uncompromising form. “‘Cold Sweat’ is a tune that’s been around for a while and it felt like the right moment to do it justice,” Russell informs. “Sometimes when you’re younger, you write a song that’s almost too mature for yourself or the band whereas later it seems to align with how you’re feeling.”
Much of Himalayan, indeed, was also born perhaps from interesting beginnings such as these – either sonically or lyrically. "Heaven’s Key," they note, “was written as a pop song, but it turned into this monster rock song,” while "Toreador" was inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s 1932 novel Death In The Afternoon and a subsequent trip to Spain where Richardson became interested in the rituals and culture of bullfighting. The intriguingly-titled "I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead and One Dying," meanwhile, was named after a favorite phrase of Marsden’s great grandfather.
Between these intriguing idiosyncracies and the overarching scale that the group are quite clearly aiming for now, Himalayan lands at a junction that’s epic without sacrificing personality. It’s a record that can afford to aim big because, with ten years leading up to it, it’s earned the right to. And it’s a record that’s not afraid to wear that aim on its sleeve.
Band Of Skulls Himalayan Track Listing:
1. Asleep at the Wheel
3. Hoochie Coochie
4. Cold Sweat
6. Brothers and Sisters
7. I Guess I Know You Fairly Well
8. You Are All That I Am Not
9. I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead and One Dying
11. Heaven's Key
12. Get Yourself Together
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