Review: The Virginmarys – King Of Conflict

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-Greg’s Take-

A few months ago I made the comment:

We’ve all played the game of “if you could make the ‘ultimate’ band, who would be in it?” Let’s pretend for a moment we asked a young Eddie Vedder to front Jet.  Not only would that be simply awesome, it would most likely sound a lot like this.

I’ve been listening to The Virginmarys, pretty much, on an endless loop since I talked about “Dead Man’s Shoes.”

Well the UK trio is poised to release Kings Of Conflict February 4th. Consider this fair warning.

Power down some coffee, a few Red Bulls, Thunder Muscle or whatever you need to get pumped because once you hit play, there is no letting up for over fifty minutes. The twelve track, pulse-pounding, electricity will leave you stunned, pumped and eager to live it all over again.

The Virginmarys light a fire under their record by opening with the instant favorite “Dead Man’s Shoes” before it stokes the flames with “Portrait of Red” and then promptly throws another log on the fire with “Just A Ride.” This is the most powerful first three songs, I have experienced since, hell, I don’t even know when. In short, I’m itching to use the term “epic.” From here through the record, past the bold “Bang Bang Bang,” the heavy handed “Running For My Life” and sleazy swagger of “You’ve Got Your Money, I’ve Got Your Soul,” the bonfire of all-that-is-rock burns brightly. I kid you not; these guys are authentic rock at its best.

Ally Dickaty’s vocals sit high on the rock totem pole graced by the likes of Mr. Vedder himself, Nic Cester and a young Dave Grohl. His guitar proves he is adequately armed to be mentioned in the same sentence as the aforementioned greats. Matt Rose plays, superbly if I may say so, the rock bass needed to keep up. His energy and heavy chords carry a forceful presence. Throwing up a massive backdrop to Rose and Dickaty’s dynamic and capping off this memorable sound, Danny Dolan thrashes away on the skins. These lads are a rock force which has been missing; we just didn’t quite know it until now.

Energizing solos, head banging riffs and balls-to-the-wall sound held in the hands of the rock gods, rung out over our meek souls, King Of Conflict is a gift to your ears, a treat for your psyche and the album which 2013 shall be judged.  Did I mention this is their debut?

-Vincent’s Take-

If you do not know The Virginmarys yet, do yourself a favor, make King of Conflict your top priority and you will not regret it. What better way to kick off 2013 than this? Sounding thoroughly American, grown in the arid deserts of California, including tequila, fights in the pool hall and Gibson pick-ups, the band formed by Ally Dickaty (guitar/vocals), Danny Dolan (drums ) and Matt Rose (bass/vocals), comes from the green lands of Albion, more precisely, from Macclesfield, in the north of England.

King of Conflict, their debut album, has all the credentials to be one of the best indie-rock albums of 2013 and I say this with full knowledge of the facts. It is true that we are just at the beginning of the year, but when, after a few plays you can remember most of the songs’ lyrics by heart and you have learned them on your SG guitar, well, it’s a great starting point.

These riffs, really powerful and well defined, suggest a comparison with other bands of the great English Rock tradition (Black Sabbath for example, also from North England), but also with more recent bands (see Danko Jones, Jet and/or Queen Of the Stone Age) which, while remaining true to their hard rock attitude, have won great visibility into the mainstream. The process which grew out of the ’60s to the British Invasion, in which the blues was revisited, turned and became great new rock, seems to continue to be alive. Listening to the songs by The Virginmarys, which, though impregnated with blues/rock licks from the classical tradition, are babies born under a new generation, not just a mere imitation of the glorious past.

The song which opens the album, “Dead man’s shoes,” is a huge rock track, simple and direct, as every hit song should be. On one hand I can imagine it played on a stage in front of an audience of seasoned rock-heads, on the other hand, in a nightclub full of young, impressionable minds who just want to rock out and have fun.

And if many live music purists would turn up their noses after the latter affirmation, in my opinion, it’s a big compliment. Just think of bands like Jet, The Fratellis and Arctic Monkeys who, with their mainstream-blinking rock, have broken down the barriers between the dance hall and the concert hall, bringing a taste for good music inside the clubs. On the same style the two following tracks “Portrait of Red” and “Just for Laughs,” combining powerful guitar riffs, a thumping rhythm section and impressive biting lyrics (“Just a ride,” I love it!) leaving the audience literally breathless for the first ten minutes – I defy anyone not to go wild with the air-guitaring or not to shake their ass.

“Out of Mind,” “Takin’ The Blame,” “My Little Girl” and “You’ve Got Your Money, I’ve Got Your Soul” accurately reflect what I said before about the rebirth of the dirty blues sound, revisited, remodeled and actualized; like a young AC/DC struggling to the shining world of MTV, eager to face both the younger generations and all those who, before them, paved the main streets of rock, whose songs reflect the frenzy of our times, mixed with the desire to have fun, and why not, to show their attitude to a wider worldwide audience.

Andy Warhol once said that “In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.” I’m sure The Virginmarys will have much more than 15 minutes and judging by their debut album and the fans who follow them, are already on the right track. Let them become famous, even in YOUR world, whether it is made of rock or not, and I swear, you will not regret it.

2 thoughts on “Review: The Virginmarys – King Of Conflict

  1. Been following these lads ever since the supported Skunk Anansie a few years back. They aren’t just a great band in te studio mind, they ttruly rock the hell ot of whatever venue they play, and I seen them play some small venues! I urge you all reading this to go buy the CD if you haven’t already pre-ordered it. If you even remotly like anythng about Rock music then you will fall in love with this I promise you.