Oakland, California groovsters Skunk make no bones about where their musical roots stem from, the quintet of John McKelvy (vocals), Dmitri Mavra (guitar), Erik Pearson (guitar), Matt Knoth (bass) and Jordan Ruyle (drums) readily admit that they draw their inspirations from the golden age of seventies hard rock and in particular the music, that bridged the gap between heavy blues rock and heavy metal, we now refer to as proto-metal. Skunk first tickled the hairs of our ears with their superb debut full album "Doubleblind" a raucous mix of proto flavoured riffage and classic rock swagger and now return to damage our hearing further with their new opus "Strange Vibration" (Fuzzy Minds Records)
Title track "Strange Vibration" opens with droning electronic trickery accompanied by a low booming bass line and is then joined by the other instruments in a lysergic jam that has guitar solo's coming at you from every conceivable angle, pushed into overdrive by busy tight percussion, the mayhem gradually subsiding for the groove to drop into a plodding doomic groove with the vocalist entering stage left to tell us of stoned gods dreaming and wise men preaching, telling these tales in vocal tones that have to be heard to be believed. John McKelvy's vocals are going to be either the deal clincher or deal breaker regarding whether you, the listener, are going to "get" Skunk, for some his Burke Shelley (Budgie) meets Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath) and shares a helium filled balloon may prove a bridge to far but for others (us included) they will be the cherry on a very tasty proto flavoured cake. Assuming you are of the latter group and dig McKelvy's unique vocal talents then what the rest of the album offers is going to rock your boat harder than a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, unashamed borrowing ("Stand In The Sun" *basically Black Sabbath's NIB with different lyrics, chorus and middle section), bluesy funkiness ("Blood Moon Rising"),swaggering hard rock ("Evil Eye Gone Blind") and doom mixed with a liberal sprinkling of glam rock ("The Cobra's Kiss") are just a few of the elements that will have you leaping around your personal space like a loon who's trod on a cactus, the rest you can discover for yourselves.
Let's try not to get bogged down with the term "retro" in regard to Skunk's new album, yes the music contained therein does have its roots in the 70's but there are also elements to be found here that would never have surfaced had it not been for today's re-emergence of rock as a force to be, once again, reckoned with. Skunk may use the halcyon days of bell bottom trousers and kaftans as their jumping off point but where they land is most certainly in the here and now.
Check it out …© 2019 Frazer Jones