Black Whiskey – Heavy Train review

Black Whiskey will openly admit that their sound and roots are firmly entrenched in those classic sounds of the seventies and early eighties capturing influences from Free, Gary Moore,...


Released By: Code 7 – Rocksector Records

Release Date: February 9th 2015

Genre: Classic Rock

Line Up:

Simon Gordon : Vocals
Kev Ingles : Guitar
Mark T. Parkin : Bass
Rich Bannister : Drums

Track Listing:

Idol Rich
All Seeing Eye
Devil Rides
Stone Cold Comfort
Hungry For Bullets
Save My Life
The Coming Storm
Heavy Train
Tie It Down
Can’t Kill The Fire

Black Whiskey will openly admit that their sound and roots are firmly entrenched in those classic sounds of the seventies and early eighties capturing influences from Free, Gary Moore, Led Zeppelin and even Glenn Hughes. Dig a little deeper however and we hear a modern take on the sound that also nods its head to the likes of Audioslave and Rival Sons. Thankfully the combination of the eras and styles makes for an interesting take on a very well populated genre. It’s a place that sees ‘average’ fall by the side very quickly but given the influences mentioned, Black Whiskey bring something original and interesting to the party.

If you look at the history of the band member, each brings their own experiences from different genres and styles of music. Simon Gordon (Vocals, ex- Xentrix, Hellfighter) , Kev Ingles (Guitar, ex- 3 State Blues, Swampsnake), Mark T. Parkin (Bass, ex –Prezence, Stargazer) and Rich Bannister (Drums, ex -Nakedium) bring elements of NWOBHM, Thrash, Blues, Alt Rock and Prog to the mix. Underpinning it all though is a clear love of Blues led Classic Rock and, well, that’s selling by the bucket load at the moment and as such, Black Whiskey are definitely riding the right “Train”.

The songs on the album are short, snappy and the majority clock in at under 4 minutes making them ideal slabs of classic rock that should find a slot on rock radio with ease. From opener ‘Idol Rich’ onwards, the tracks are driven by some high quality guitar playing from Kev Ingles. Helped along by decent production which allows the drum and bass playing to fill the tracks without overpowering them, the songs sound warm and it’s easy to imagine them being played through battered, well used instruments, connected to valve amps that glow on stage as the night goes by.

Simon Gordon adds his own take on the whiskey fuelled, gravelly, bluesy vocals and the combination when layered over the top of the music works well indeed. ‘All Seeing Eye’ with its’ Bad Company, ‘Can’t Get Enough‘ intro riff just reaffirming the era and sound that the band are looking to emulate, keeps the momentum going and gives Ingles the opportunity to show off his soloing capabilities to great effect.

The Devil Rides’ adds a layer of groove to the sound and its easy to imagine this going down well live on stage with a mass of bobbing heads showing their appreciation for the band. ‘Stone Cold Comfort’ allows the rhythm section to step forward and open the track with some neat bass licks supported ably by Rich Bannister on drums. Mark Parkin’s bass then leads the whole song during the verses and it shows the versatility of the band that they can allow all of the members to rotate and get a stint in the spotlight. If there was to be a criticism of anything it would be that Gordon’s voice does crack a little at the higher end of his range. To be fair to him, he does push himself and never plays it safe on tracks by just sticking to the lower, deeper blues sound he nails so so well. The top end though, especially on the afore mentioned ‘Stone Cold Comfort’ and also ‘Save My Life’ has moments of “just made it” when reaching for some of those higher notes. He only has to look at ‘Hungry For Bullets‘ and ‘The Coming Storm’ to see that he does have a versatile range but it just needs to come down slightly to allow him to sing within his boundaries and to his strengths.

Time and time again, Ingles gets to lead the intro to songs and it helps set the groove and feel of the track before the rest of the band join in and Gordon starts to sing. It works very well for the band and again, the list of influences that they emulate contains all of the classics from the 70s. The band themselves will say that they think the music sounds fresh and modern but stays true to the blueprint and it’s difficult to argue with that.

Black Whiskey hold their album launch party and perform at The Barfly in Camden, London on February 14th, making it nigh on impossible, for those of us with a wife who doesn’t find tiny rock venues quite so romantic, to attend!!

Written by Adrian Hextall

Ratings: Adrian 7/10



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