Alabama Thunderpussy Open Fire

Since their formation in the late ’90s, Alabama Thunderpussy have gone through an endless stream of seemingly identity crisis-laden changes. While still keeping a foothold in the world of metal, they have shifted and shimmied their way through connections with punk, rock’n’roll, Southern-fried boogie and whatever else breeds connotations to dirty, bearded guys sweating Jack Daniels and playing Orange amps on 11. Although that sounds enticing, it’s been nothing but frustrating, as each release has been somewhat of a guessing game: which face will rear itself this time? All of that seemed to change moderately with 2005’s Fulton Hill, the band’s Relapse debut, where they finally realised how to own influences instead of mimicking them, settling on something between the bottom-end chug and crisp-yet-gritty vocal delivery of stoner rock, boogie shuffle and thunderous riffs of, say, Dukes Of Nothing. Call it a grungier desert rock delivered on Open Fire, an album that rams songs such as "Void Of Harmony,” "Whiskey War” and "Valor” through speakers with such dominant force that most systems will probably crap out in the process. Sadly though, current singer Kyle Thomas (maybe the revolving door of front-men is partly to blame for the sonic indecisiveness) has a strong set of pipes to lead the band but his banal lyrics, hopeless rhyming schemes and penchant for crooning over smashing your face in provide a testosterone vacuum, not propellant. Any singer described as uttering "battle cries” just, well, shouldn’t. It reeks of middle-aged men squeaking by instead of taking over. (Relapse)