Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK was a major player in the UK's Industrial Revolution becoming one of the countries main producers of textiles , mainly wool, so it comes as no surprise that a band coming from a city renowned for its heavy industry is just that ...HEAVY!
Andrew Flint (Vocals/Lead Guitar), Jack Walker (Vocals/Rhythm Guitar), Danny Wrigley (Bass) and Lewis Winslade (Drums) are Gandalf The Green, a band who cite amongst their influences such big hitters as Conan, Sleep and Electric Wizard and whose obsession with marijuana and Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" are the main themes of their debut EP "King of the Ashes".
Opening track "The Right" wastes no time with intricate and gently noodled intros, with nothing more than a short burst of white noise the song explodes straight into the heavily fuzzed, low tuned and bone shaking main riff. Flint and Walker's guitars combine to lay down a solid wall of distortion grizzled power chords pushed hard from beneath by Wrigley's sludge heavy bass and Winslade's enormously powerful percussion. Over this cacophony of doom laden sludge Flint, with occasional support from Walker, bellows the songs lyrics with a raw throaty feral passion as well as peeling off scintillating Iommi-like solos.
"The One Ring" is next, a paean to the fabled ring of Tolkein's famous novel built around a slow'n'heavy Sleep-like refrain interspersed with elements of psychedelic colouring . "Sauron has risen" roars Flint against a backdrop of plodding rhythmic heaviness and gnarly guitar tones, and you can almost envisage hordes of leather skinned Orcs nodding along appreciatively to the songs menacingly dark and deliciously seductive groove.
"King of the Ashes" sees Gandolf The Green hitting a more sabbathian groove full of shifting time signatures and drastic changes of tempo. Flint and Walker's guitar settings, are here, switched from kill to stun with a warmer hard rock tone being employed and there is even a brief neo-classical solo thrown in for good measure. Winslade lays down a solid and time perfect beat for the two guitarists to lay their riffs upon and Wrigley gets his place in the spotlight with some deft little bass injections.
"Reefer Madness" shows the bands less caustic side with a gentle and moody piece that closes with a tongue in cheek soundbyte warning of the dangers of marijuana use and segues into...
"Old Toby". For those with no knowledge of hobbits and their habits "Old Toby" is a pipe-weed much loved by the small but large footed inhabitants of Tolkein's Middle Earth and is also an acronym, used by some in this world, for marijuana. Feedback and drums heralds the arrival of a deliciously dirty Wrigley bass line that is then joined by the guitars. Settings are once again set for kill and the three guitarists fall into a titanic gain drenched riff coated with deeply bellowed vocals and underpinned by big,big drums.
What Tolkein would have made of "King of the Ashes" we will never know but what is more certain is that those who are fans of Sleep, Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath and partial to a little fantasy literature and imagery are gonna love it!
Check it out.......