A year down the line from their comeback in 2000, following their split in 1996 just as their commerical bubble burst, the Almighty return with their second lineup change in 2 years. Last years self titled CD showed what was ostensibly a fresh start, yet was in fact just a refinement of their previous D, despite the influx of a new guitarist. Now, founder member Floyd London (having been in the band since inception) has been replaced with a new bassist, Gav Gray.
Some 15 months down the line, “Psycho-Narco” doesn’t come close to the previous heights of 1994’s superlative “Crank” CD. Despite containing 14 songs, you come away feeling short changed, curiously empty. From the opening “Galvanize” to the closing “Million Times Nothing”, this album is a poor representation of the Almighty’s strengths. Its got big chords, melodic choruses and puns ahoy, but it’s the same old same old. Its nothing new, nothing you haven’t hear before. Much like last years “The Almighty” was a refining of their sound on the previous “Just add life” CD, “psycho-Narco” is just a further refinement: with very little musical progression.
nfortunately, this seems to wear its influences so blatantly on its sleeve its it may as well be a cover’s albums in places. “427 Freak horsepower” is a note for note copy of the main riff of Buzzcocks “Ever fallen in love”, “Ruse” shows potential to be a single but let down by a repetitive and monotonous vocal line, and “Soul on a roll” is simply a rewrite of the opening of 1993’s “Out of Season” note for note. Recycling other people’s songs can be seen as homage, recycling your own, that’s desperation. And “Hate the World” , for all its offspring-esque title, never lives up to it’s title, derivative and unoriginal, predictable chord changes. “Waiting for Earthquakes” is simply a rejig of 1993’s “Jesus loves you…” . I could go on and tell you which other songs from their backcatalogue they’ve rewritten, but there’s no point.
The Almighty could be, at times, an essential and brilliant band: !994’s “Crank” for example was a brilliantly brash barrage of britmetal and NYC punk. This is not one of those times: It sounds jaded, tired, old hat. This album is recycled, reheated Old’ Clash + Ruts + Buzzcocks riffs put in the microwave for 30 seconds and left up to serve, the sound of a band carrying on because they don’t know what else to do, with very little new to say but to ply their remaining and dwindling fanbase. It’s a hugely disappointing stepback, especially when you know they can be capable of so much better than simply treading water. Go and buy “Crank” instead, if you can find it: it’s a record with passion, vitality and anger: everything that this lethargic effort is missing.
5Graham Reed's Score