If you’ve spent enough time in the music world, you come to learn what you can expect from certain record labels. In the case of Small Stone, you know that you can expect some heavy grooves as well as a lot of volume and tempo.
With that in mind, Lord Fowl is the perfect Small Stone artist. This band is from New Haven (yes, the home of Yale). Perhaps that is something of a tribute to New Haven: that it can be home to both a posh university and a loud rock and roll band that draws heavily from the sounds of the past. On their new album Glorious Babylon, Lord Fowl shows again that its members might have been born in the wrong decade with grooves and riffs that sound like they were recorded in the late 70s.
There is a definite classic rock feel throughout the album. The riff in the title track brings Aerosmith (another Northeastern rock and roll band) to mind. The melody is based in the blues while delivering a healthy dose of rock and roll. Ultimately, this album is built on that ethic. Without question it is enough to be considered a groove-rock bible. At the same time, you realize that the rhythms and the riffs are based in the blues. You won’t confuse the tunes with John Lee Hooker or anything like that, but you can hear that the blues plays a significant role in the sound and structure of these tunes.
At the same time, you realize that Ozzy has just as much influence on this band as anybody. “The Wraith” is a great example, opening with a spacey riff that moves quickly into a bass-heavy sound that you can hear in any Black Sabbath song. Even the vocals in this song include a tip of the cap to Ozzy’s signature sound.
And that has been the winning formula for Small Stone forever: riff-heavy bands that are greatly influenced by Ozzy Osbourne and other classic-rock artists. Lord Fowl certainly fits that profile. This album is full of riffs that are just as likely as Black Sabbath to inspire people to pick up a guitar. From the fist-pumping tempo of “The Gramercy Riffs” to the doom-laden burn of “Space Jockey” this is an album made for people who like to cut the sleeves off of their t-shirts and blast loud music from the windows of their vintage muscle cars.
Photo credit: Meg Herlihy