New classic rockers announce themselves in style
This is something of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it debut. Eight songs. 33 minutes, but that’s all you need to know to understand that Samarkind are pretty special.
There is a real league of nations feel about them, but they are very much rooted in classic British blues rock. Deep Purple, Free and Led Zeppelin are just three of the obvious stop offs here (as they are with countless other bands) but this is so expertly done that it is clear that the four piece are a cut above most of their competition.
“Black Rain” kicks things off with an epic feel, as if they are waiting to announce themselves. When they do its with a swampy, bluesy groove, before changing gear. Frontman David Paul Byrne (best known for his time in Assassin – who toured with Def Leppard, Status Quo, WASP, Manowar and more) is in fine form throughout, but particularly here.
Off and running, they are happy to play their trump card early. “Sun Stroke Heart” has been played on Planet Rock and reached number two on the Classic Rock website songs of the week for a reason. It’s ace. Simple as that. Hip shaking soul- filled rock, it is confident and classy.
“Skinny Rivers”, with its bluesy lead guitar, is stomping, urgent rock n roll, but they follow this up, with the swirling, “Good Man Call”, which has a kind of fragility, something ephemeral even. It does, however, hint that as time goes by there is a lot of layers to Samarkind.
For now though, they seem happiest when they come out swinging. “Thru That Door” sees Byrne channel something of a Ian Gillan roar, over a song that cheerfully rifles through everything from Purple to Bad Company via a little detour to early Whitesnake, while “Fire And Blood” broods in its verses before exploding with some Glenn Hughes like moves in the huge, hooked filled chorus.
The vibe changes completely for “Touch Stone Man”. Acoustic, with some understated, yet somehow perfect, percussion, it sees the band play some real front porch blues, in the manner that the Temperance Movement (another band that will come to mind throughout) managed so well on their early work.
“Blue Mountain” concludes things here, and it has a little more of a wander, a freak out if you will at the end, and live you can imagine this timeless piece of work being a real centre-piece.
Short, but more than a statement of intent. Samarkind make good on the old showbiz maxim of always leave them wanting more. More is certain, though, as the band – also comprising Polish guitarist Michal Kulbaka, Ireland’s Mark Dempsey on bass guitar, and South African born drummer Marius Appelgryn – are highly polished and skilful and like obvious contemporary’s Inglorious, you can’t see them playing support slots for too long. Samarkind are only going one way.
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