When a genre goes through a resurgence you get so many bands trying to jump on that trend. When blues rock started to get cool again a few years ago there were few bands that truly made the most of this. That phase has largely subsided now and made way for the ridiculous number of pop-punk bands that are currently coming through, but there’s still one band from the aforementioned phase to make their mark: enter Bristol quartet Tax The Heat and their rhythm and blues inspired debut Fed To The Lions.
Opening the album is Highway Home, a track previously released as a single that premiered on Planet Rock radio and, back when that was available to normal folk and their cars, that was a pretty big deal for an unsigned band without an album out. Now it’s opening their debut album and sounding bigger than ever. The chorus is huge and Alex Veale’s vocals are as infectious as they are deep. Animals follows in a similar vain, funky blues laden riffs providing a throwback to years gone by. The change in pace between verse, bridge and chorus is extremely satisfying and gives an early idea of the talent on show.
The pace is stripped out of Under Watchful eye and it is a slow, chugging song that relies on an addictive bassline and subtle drum beat. What Tax The Heat do so well again and again though is truly bring a song to life with the chorus. This track is no different and the slight pause before the chorus kicks in is used to perfection. Another previously released track and it’s title track Fed To The Lions. Re-recorded here to give it a more rounded feel, the it doesn’t feel like anything has been lost. The verse riffs feel fuzzier, but it doesn’t lose that classic feel the album does so well. This is evidenced again by Hit Me Hard, a track that feels new, but like it could have written by so many bands over the past 60 years – which in this context is nothing but a compliment.
Fed To The Lions as an album is one of not many these days that works as both an album in it’s original order, or put on shuffle. The second half of the album doesn’t relent. Devil’s Daughter and Caroline are two very different tracks that were previously released as singles or on their EP. Devil’s Daughter has some honky tonk piano and an overall sound that would work well as an instrumental (sorry Alex!) and Caroline is a wonderful Summer’s evening track. All I want to do when listening to Caroline is be out in the garden, beer in hand with the sun setting in the background. That’s displaced when Your Fool’s dirtiness kicks off though. The album closes with Lost Our Way, a track that sounds like it is combining all of their various influences in one 5 minute long sign off.
So, the debut Tax The Heat album has been a long time in the making, in fact I spoke to them in 2014 and they said it was ‘close to release’, but it has been completely and utterly worth the wait. These guys have written 12 truly excellent rock ‘n’ roll tracks and I’m now hoping this gives them the platform they need to achieve what this album deserves.