WILFUL BOYS- Rough As Guts LP
New York City's The Wilful Boys is hard rock the way it once was -- and should always be -- now and forever, amen. You know The Wilful Boys are old-school from the get-go as you wonâ€™t find main man and singer Steven Fisher out in front of the band, prancing and preening. The man is behind the drumkit, driving these songs forward with a bruising, methodical force. Fisher is an Aussie -- as is bassist Mikey Watkins -- and the hardscrabble nature of his native land sweats heaps of grit and power all over Rough As Guts, The Wilful Boys' 12-song debut full-length on NYC's Ever/Never Records. If you thought their single was a fine example of brutal rock n' roll, you ain't heard nothin' yet.
Rough As Guts lives up to its title -- it's a shit-kicking no-shit-giving hard-ass of a record. The album even lives up to its splatterpunk cover art courtesy of Musk's Rob Fletcher. The members of The Wilful Boys have spent years plying their trade in all manner of punk, hardcore and noise rock bands, so they waste no time getting down to business with "Poor Old Mate," a road-burner that spews riffs and attitude. This cut could turn oxygen back into carbon dioxide. On the title track, the band settles into a lowdown groove as Fisher talks out his blues. "The Pinch" seems like a warning, which is echoed by the guitars cleaving through it. Johnny Provenzano and Nicholas Isles are a fierce team, peeling off all kinds of naggingly catchy riffs and not afraid to throw down the pyrotechnics when necessary. "Flat Out" is reprised from their debut single and itâ€™s even more of a bruiser than that first take. "Take It Easy" is three minutes of what The Wilful Boys do best -- completely pummeling rock n' roll that builds up momentum and then collapses on you like an avalanche. "Hatchet" buries the lede and then hits you like a ton of bricks. "Your Place" alternates disquieting, dissonant passages with a classic punk chorus. Closing out the album is one of Rough As Guts' standout tracks -- "Say It Again" sounds like an army marching towards their objective with single-minded intent as Fisher shouts to be heard over the melee -- "I'll tell ya somethin'/and it's better than nothin!" What I can tell you is that The Wilful Boys intend on punching 2016 in the face, so wear that black eye with pride. -e/n