Black Leather Soul
Review by Rick Damigella
Listen up! Are you tired of the same old same old from your rock bands? Do you want a vocalist who can sing rather than channel the tortured soul of Cookie Monster in Hell? Do you like sleazy riffs, played by guitarists who do more than just abuse their strings repeatedly? Do you want to hear a band that if you took your girl to one of their shows she might just leave with them and not you? Well, yeah that would suck, but it would be so worth it after you have been rocked out by Angus Khan!
Describing themselves as “Angus Young meets Genghis Khan in a back alley fight,” this band is what this world needs right now. Righteous, in your face, butt-kicking rock and roll. Upon first listen of their debut album Black Leather Soul, a true rock connoisseur will detect essence of Stooges, a note of Motorhead, delectable dashes of Runaways, a hint of Hanoi Rocks, all wrapped into a casing molded from the very furnaces which forged AC/DC. If that isn’t enough to grab your attention, know then that the band is spawned from members of Jesters of Destiny, Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs and B-Movie Rats.
There are no power ballads or filler songs here, just 12 tracks of glam-bam-punk-you-ma’am rockers. The album drops in March of 09 on Nickel & Dime Records and will be available through major physical and online retail channels. Angus Khan guitarist Frank Meyer has given MSJ an exclusive look inside the makings and history of some of the songs, many of which might just surprise you and will surely make you want to hear Black Leather Soul for yourself.
|Track by Track Review
Any band that takes a relatively under-known psychedelic/glam hit by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and turns it into an butt-kicking opening statement is all right in my book. This has big guitar riffs, a head banging rhythm and sing along vocals with just a touch of Bon Scott swagger. Since this band’s mission statement includes bringing big rock back to the masses, this is a great way to start it off.
|Call Me Motherf****r|
Guitarist Frank Meyer (ex-Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs) wrote this number for Nashville Pussy when they were taking song submissions from other artists. They didn’t pick it up, but their loss is AK’s gain. Fast, rude, and in your face, this barn burner can be put on the same shelf of songs about bad-asses by Bo Diddley and Willie Dixon, aided by vocalist Derek “Dirty D” Christensen’s (ex-B Movie Rats) performance, who absolutely owns this one.
You may have noticed that the album cover tributes Accept’s Balls to the Wall, but with a woman. The AC/DC-meets-Krokus riffage makes this the perfect follow up song to the previous one and will make you want to pump your fist in the air and sing along with the “Angus Men’s Choir” backing up the band.
|Mr. Living Dead|
On first listen to the disc, this instantly became my favorite number. There are hints of Sabbath in the guitar riffs, hooking you instantly with their groove. Meyer penned this one while with the Cheetahs, but it was deemed too “metal” for their sound. Derek Christensen displays his vocal range, starting in a more subtle mode than on previous numbers, building bigger throughout to a hellish scream around the 2:30 mark which climaxes with Christensen entering metal banshee range. Rock needs more singers like this. This is one of those songs that if you aren’t head banging to it instantly you should probably check your pulse.
Opening riffs in the vein of “Beat on the Brat” segue quickly into a Runaways style rock-a-long. This is appropriate as Meyer wrote this one for a proposed album by Runaways vocalist Cherie Currie intended to be a “return to the Runaways-sound” which never ended up being recorded. Appropriate then that Angus Khan should record it themselves, especially as some of their members play as Currie’s backing band on occasion.
|Silver and Green|
This longer, mid-tempoed rocker enjoys some tight rhythm performance from drummer Andy Baker and bassist Dino Everett. With slightly slicker production and some fun electronic flourishes, it feels very different from the rest of the album, but not at all out of place. Is it about heroin, money or alien abduction? You will have to decide.
|On the Run|
It is ordained in the Bible of Rock that thou shalt include at least one song on your debut album about a bad a* chick and which starts off with motorcycle noise. (No really, I read that passage myself). Kicking the album into high gear, this full throttled rocker has touches of Motley Crue, Rose Tattoo and The Germs in it.
Every rock band needs to have at least one completely unapologetic and misogynistic song about a girl starring in a one night stand from the singer’s point of view. The nice thing is, while there are a million songs like that out there, this short burst of punk and roll comes off feeling original! It features the soon to be classic line “I don’t want to be your fascination and I don’t want no romance I just want a chance to get in your hot pants.”
|Black Leather Soul|
The album’s title cut opens on a simply evil bass line and is joined by a grinding boogie guitar riff. Being a fan of early Hanoi Rocks I can hear some of their influences in the groove and arrangement. Guitarist Frank Meyer explains that this was also originally written for the aborted Cherie Currie album as it tells about Runaways’ svengali Kim Fowley from Currie’s point of view. Take a listen to the harshness of the lyrics to get a very vivid mental picture painted for you.
Meyer says this song was written by himself and bassist Dino Everett for Everett’s short film “Shuttlecocks.” They later re-wrote it for Angus Khan and have managed to take it into a heavy Stones-style vibe.
This one was written by AK’s guitarist Bruce “Screaming Lord” Duff along with Tony Reflex of The Adolescents about Cherie Currie. The title refers to the Runaways’ vocalist’s new passion of chainsaw art carving. Appropriately enough, there are some excellent buzz saw guitar runs throughout. It’s a simple, straightforward and fun song.
|Exile on Mean Street|
The song’s title was inspired by Frank Meyer overhearing a Turbonegro fan describe one of their shows as “like exile on Mean Street!” The “Stone Cold Crazy” style lyric delivery is killer and the song’s arrangement is reminiscent of Van Halen’s Fair Warning period. This is a full-tilt rocker of the highest caliber. At the end of the listen to Black Leather Soul, it really doesn’t matter what the influences are or what this or that song sounds like it. What matters is this is a rocking album, start to finish, and one that if you call yourself a rock fan, you need to hear.
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