Tuesday 7 August 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: 1968, "Ballads of the Godless"

By: Dominic Walsh

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 07/07/2018
Label: Independent

There is always demand for heritage and that retro rock and roll sound and 1968 are more than capable purveyors.

“Ballads of the Godless” DD//LP track listing:

1). Devilswine
2). Screaming Sun
3). Temple of the Acidwolf
4). S.J.D.
5). Chemtrail Blues
6). McQueen
7). The Hunted
8). Mother of God

The Review:

Formed in 2013 out of a chance meeting between Sam (Orr, guitars) and James (Coppack, vocals) 1968 was created out of their love for many legendary albums created in the year that signalled the beginning of a darker, heavier movement in music and popular culture; a period in time characterized by an evolving socio-political environment, the end of the colourful ‘Summer of Love’ era and the dawn of a more cynical cultural landscape defined by the Manson murders and the Altamont tragedy.

1968’s previous EP’s may have been well received and they’re not shy of throwing their influences in the spotlight. The big difference between “Fortuna Havana and their debut album is that the band have added a heavy level of grunge to their sound. So whilst Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy and Jimi Hendrix are all prevalent, there is also more than a heavy smattering of Alice In Chains and Soundgarden.

“Devilswine” opens up the album in scintillating fashion and pulls many styles into its glorious mix. Towering riffs blow you away more than once as you voyage through the track. Dan Amati’s drumming is brilliant throughout and it’s his range of tempos and styles that set off this exciting opener. Its abrupt ending gives way to the chug of “Screaming Sun” which sees strained vocals play off against more melodic backing vocals.

Temple of the Acidwolf” is pure Alice In Chains worship in the harmonic vocal delivery. The lead guitar work is tripped out as the vocals get gradually more psychedelic. The whole trip, literally and metaphorically, is quite sublime. The same can be said of one of the albums highlights, “McQueen”. Building gradually throughout its near 7 minute duration, the peak of the track is excellent and begs your attention.

As the title suggests, “Chemtrail Blues” is a bluesier affair – this is not tender though. Distorted guitars, rolling bass and more crashing drum work help elevate the track away from the standard blues fair. “The Hunted” plays with a more upbeat tempo and traditional feel akin to the more trad feel of “Fortuna Havana. “Mother of God” closes out the album as a more jam laden instrumental. It fades out in the same way the album fades in; a swarming maelstrom of feedback.

1968 aren’t reinventing the wheel, but they’re playing with the motion of that wheel. Some of the production on the album dips here and there, maybe due to split responsibility but with that being said, “Ballads of the Godless” is a solid step in the right direction after some excellent EP’s. There is always demand for heritage and that retro rock and roll sound and 1968 are more than capable purveyors.

“Ballads of the Godless” is available here

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