Justin McConville's life as the Heavy Metal Kids' guitarist (and vocalist when no guest stars are available) is, it appears, merely the tip of the iceberg as far as his creativity is concerned.
This, his self-released album, reveals a more experimental, and virtuosic side (but that's not all, be warned). Covering all instruments on 'A Seventh State Of Mind', he plays from a completely different angle to his HM Kids persona. Not quite standing on his head, but definitely a bit sideways.
'A Seventh State Of Mind' opens with two deceptively straightforward, old-style rock tracks with some blinding guitar solos, though there are hints that he's about to throw some odd shapes at us, judging by the psychedelic lyrics.
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By track three, 'One True Light', the album has definitely hit unstable territory. When I say 'unstable', I mean 'quirky', for Justin is evidently a hippy at heart, and has a distinctly off-kilter view of life. And, when I say 'hippy', I mean of the spacerock Hawkwind variety – that wholly British institution that created the missing link between punk and hippy cultures, hanging round in Portobello Road bedsits and taking too much acid.
'The Stranger In The Mirror', fourth track in, is even weirder. The rock is deeply entrenched and prevented from totally rocking its heart out by some curious minor-chord riffery.
In fact, the whole album reminds me of Judge Trev's Inner City Unit, who had tenuous links to Hawkwind in the nineties. Trev had a song called 'Special Brew And Tennents'. Justin's pseudo-punk contribution to the whipround is simply called 'Beer', though it's not very simple at all, sounding much like a Zappa outtake. After this, he continues to throw the rulebook out the window with 'Those Cold Emotions', for which it sounds like he's hired Kings X to do some disarming harmonies.
Justin returns to rocky territory at the end with the distinctly AC/DC-esque 'Taking Me Home' and suddenly, shockingly, it dawns on me that he sounds like Bon Scott! What the-?! So I've found myself listening to the album again and again, because I can't quite believe he's gone from no-holds-barred metallic rock to gone-with-the-fairies psychedelic spacerock, experimental jazz fare and back again. Oh, and I forgot to mention the acoustic instrumental in the middle. 'Five Minutes Ago' is beautiful, showcasing Justin's fine, winsome fingering skills – but it sounds like it's from another album, or planet, even.
'A Seventh State Of Mind' isn't going to set the world alight, but it's definitely worth further investigation to hear the many minds at work inside a musician's head. Well it is called 'A Seventh State Of Mind', after all…
Next HM Kids gig I go to, I'll be looking at Justin in a whole new light.
'A Seventh State Of Mind' is available at: