Shivering their timbers, veterans of psychobilly battles embark on a bountiful caper.
Credited with the creation of – well, at least, defining – a whole genre, this ensemble have rarely been given their due for the forming a penumbral world entirely of their own, a twilight zone where attacks from planet Zorch occur and creepy figures lurk in the shadows. Can there be a better place for space pirates to hunt for treasure and pursue enemies? It’s the question that the Englishmen’s umpteenth album addresses in detail, both lyrical and aural, and in style – to mark the 40th anniversary of their debut. Yet if the trio’s first record found them in aliens-infested heaven, the story of “Skull N Bones” unravel on the opposite end of celestial spectrum. Actually, there are two albums on a single compact disc (one on vinyl), the shenanigans of “The Curse Of…” following up on the dilogy’s first part to chart the London’s filibusters’ overall course through fresh cuts interspersed with familiar numbers – either laid down anew or remixed – so the buccaneers’ adventures are rather arresting, albeit somewhat long.
Still, how can anyone not surrender to the immediate appeal of pieces like the platter’s title track, whose refrain is bound to ring in the listener’s ears for eternity, or the twangy gallop of instrumental, devilish laughter aside, opener “Chasing Evil”? It’s impossible to ignore the band’s wild dynamics, and though Lobo Fenrir’ drums and Hennes’ double bass sometimes lock into each other so tightly as to produce an overload, it’s par for the aforementioned course, the rhythm crew complementing their captain P. Paul Fenech’s roar and roll. They’re magnificently infectious in the sway of “Get Back In The Swamp (And Jump)” which will link, further on, to “Alligator Man 2020” and surf up towards the supercharged cover of “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky” – the record’s wordless finale, drifting past such punchy rarities as the haunting “The Queen Of Zorch” from the “Scavenger” OST, “Zombies Noise” and “Dateless Nights”: slightly sonically different now but perfectly fitting the flow.
Whereas the raucous, raw whisper of the insistent “More Demons Than Most” feels weirdly pacifying, the pair of “All I Do” and “All I Can Do Is Cry” is passively aggressive, the tunes’ highly memorable rumble bringing on a rapture of peril, before the strident shuffle of “She’s My Witch” and subaquatic jive of “Daughters Of The Deep” marry swagger to nightmare. Yet punk spikes that pierce the groove of “You Used To Be (The Usual Suspects)” see the trio return, shouting “Fuck you!”, to jolly base, and board the pure rockabilly of “Little Hellcat” which heats the atmosphere to the point of no return. It’s a sortie like no other – taking no prisoners. the veterans conquer the world once again.