The Heavy: The Glorious Dead


English blues-rock band The Heavy‘s third album, The Glorious Dead comes on the heels of international breakout success with their 2010 hit single "How You Like Me Now," and perhaps in an effort to prove worth beyond that song they’ve delivered an album of sweeping diversity in sound and aesthetic. Self-produced in their own recording studio, with some help from both Jim Abbiss (Adele, Arctic Monkeys) and Paul Corkett (The Cure, Nick Cave, Björk), The Glorious Dead is an eclectic mix of musical styles, which often belies what core there is to this record, making it instead a jumbled affair of overused variety.

The album opens up with a vintage sounding horror movie introduction on "Can’t Play Dead," which quickly establishes much of the sinister feel of the record. Lead single "What Makes a Good Man," arguably the best track to be found here, follows soon after, which evokes The Black Keys via Ray Charles. "Just My Luck" is an example, though, of The Heavy’s somewhat misguided attempt at cramming too many ideas into one song. It merges angsty teenage punk rock with a sappy, smooth chorus before closing out with an Eastern-tinged ending. Rather than try to cover the gamut of their influences and abilities in the space of one track, they should have focused on one style, which would then have made a more solid impact. "The Lonesome Road" is another spot where the band misses on adding vigor to the record, instead relying on a monotonous sound that ultimately undermines the song. Thankfully, they bring it back together for the closer "Blood Dirt Love Stop," which is catchy and carries a classic R&B smoothness that is utterly charming.

The Glorious Dead explores topics of dark magic, werewolves, graveyards and zombies to create a richly dark, ominous and somewhat disturbing atmosphere. The majority of the songs here attempt to unleash forbidding rhythmic-laden soul music that at many points tries to replicate Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ "I Put a Spell on You." Leadman Kelvin Swaby’s vocals beautifully carry the gospel-infused wails on “What Makes a Good Man,” making the Southern blues flare seem effortless and natural, evoking the moody, balmy air of New Orleans. The cinematic, vintage appeal of The Glorious Dead is what makes The Heavy’s latest offering worth digging into, but it’s also a record with too many missed opportunities to make it a great offering.

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