Four years on from their split in 1996 riding the crest of a wave of popularity just before the commercial nether years of declining interest and side projects that couldn’t get a record deal, the Almighty have returned with their sixth album.
Cast your kind back to 1993 and they seemed like conquering heores – sellout tours, top five albums, the best british metal band since iron Maiden or something, at least until the next big thing came along. And then they were yesterdays last big thing. Victim of being dropped at their commercial peak when their album failed to make any impact in America, (they found themselves supporting a Metallica cover band, when 6 weeks earlier they’d supported Metallica themselves) their momentum faded away after a couple of years of treading water careerwise, despite moving on in musical bounds and stride . However, on this album, their seems to be little sign of any stratospheric career change in sight. Showing little progess from where they left off in 1996 – the new line up seems to have stalled musically. Coming on somewhere like a cross between the Clash, the Ruts, the Ramones and Rocket from the crypt , it has all the right ingredients, just put together in the wrong order. While the metal scene has swung towards Slipknot and Deftones, The Almighty seem to remain stuck in 1977 and 1996 simultaneously. The opening “Broken Machine” proves to open some savage intent before getting into a groove Metallica’s “Sad But True” would have loved to have but couldn’t achieve, chock full of melody and a standout track. Curiously, it is one of the few songs written by new guitarist Nick Parsons,ex of Whatever. “I’m in Love with Revenge” comes along like the breakneck punk of the Ramones, seemingly like most of the album is on 1950s rock and roll classics fucked up on distortion pedals and speed – but sounding fuck all like Motorhead and more like the Ruts. This general mood – of discontentment and recycled riffs – permeate the entire album, and whilst it is indubitable heavy, the album remains a pale imitation of their previous works, lacking the original and spark of before. How much of this is due to the lacklustre production by Ronan McHugh is debatable though, whereas some material, especially the frentic “Stop” and “USAK-47” (Ricky Warwick’s inability to write a song without puns hasn’t stopped yet) shines though despite the flat compressed sound.
Its as energetic as fuck, with very little subtlety, but is it metal? Times change, but the Almighty didn’t. Had this been released in 1990 it would have been a good five years ahead of their time, but its ten years from then, and their torch has faded and tarnished. The quality of songwriting is below par compared to the previous two albums before it, (for example “La Chispa be la Muerte” seems to recycle from their 1993 album with absolute precision, and “Big Black Automatic” seems simplistic to the point of absurdity) with a few standout tracks , the aforementioned “Broken Machine” and “Stop”, but while the singer/lyricists Ricky Warwick’s lyrics continue to be aggravated, they often seem to be reactionary and undirected. Well worth investigating, but as an introduction to the band, there are far far better places to begin.
8Graham Reed's Score