If 2020’s Made Of Dirt was highly anticipated, then the wait for album number three has been almost unbearable. Thankfully, the wait is almost over. Once again, Blind River crammed into Middlefarm studios and bashed out the album in just two days. No overdubs, no messing around, just pure hard and heavy rock with that undeniable Metal edge.
Blind River – Bones For The Skeleton Thief
Release Date: 25 May 2023
Words: Paul Hutchings
Few bands can bottle their live sound, but Blind River do it with ease. And that might sound a bit flippant, for this isn’t some throwaway album but the next level in a progression that has been lovingly crafted, road-tested, and quality assured before being released.
If you’ve not seen these guys live, then it’s time to sort your life out. Few bands can match them, and as they are usually playing up close and personal, they symbolise all that is good in the underground world of hard rock. I’ve seen them about a dozen times since my first encounter at Hard Rock Hell in North Wales shortly after their formation in 2017, and they never fail.
So, Bones For The Skeleton Thief. Ten songs of rip-snorting perfection. Opening with the outrageous stomp of Punkstarter, it’s immediately clear that Blind River are in feisty mood. The rasping roars of Harry Armstrong dominates without overpowering, whilst the four instrumentalists simply run riot behind him.
Bones For The Skelton Thief sees the debut of new drummer Mark Sharpless (Sons Of Merrick), and he does a sterling job, locking in tight with the pulsing groove of bassist Will Hughes. This combination holds the Blind River ship steady from start to finish, with Hughes’ bass lines a rampant beast.
The songs vary in style, as one would expect from the band now. There’s the smouldering burn of Second Hand Soul, which takes a slightly bluesier approach whilst retaining the aggression that always lingers close to the surface. Snake Oil has a groove to die for, and it’s one which the band debuted at their show at The Patriot, Crumlin, recently. The guitar work is blistering, the combination of Chris Charles and Dan Edwards lacerating the skin.
Whilst Blind River draw deep on their huge number of influences, they’ve generated an instantly recognisable sound. They drop into a more reflective mode in Out Of Time, take a more melodic approach on Skeleton Thief, which sees Armstrong give an album-defining performance, and get the fists pumping on Mind Blown. The hooks are deep, the lyrics clever, and the overall combination just works.
Few albums contain no filler, but Bones For The Skeleton Thief is one such album. Primal Urges is one that’ll get venues moving with its driving riff and ample headbanging potential. Hell, Blind River make music to move to, and it’s impossible not to nod along even when you’re sat down.
More blues-drenched delivery on Unwind leads to the final duo on the album. Passing By has a lovely retro vibe to it, whilst Bad God has another punishing riff and a groove that demands you hit play again.
Having seen the boys bring three of these songs to Station 18 Festival recently, I can confirm that live, the new music will melt your face off.
Hearty rock music, written to shake your foundations. Grab a beer, clear some space, and get ready for the ride of 2023. Bones For The Skeleton Thief is here, and the world is a better place as a result.
To pre-order Bones For The Skeleton Thief and hear Punkstarter, visit https://blindriver.bandcamp.com/album/bones-for-the-skeleton-thief.