We keep a running list of records that release throughout a given year that strike some kind of chord with us so that we don’t get overwhelmed when it comes to whittling down faves for our inevitable year-end list. Sometimes, on very rare occasions, we add a band to that list before an album even drops because we have faith in that artist while on other occasions an advance single is so strong that we can’t imagine not loving what’s to come. Boston’s Blood Lightning falls into the latter category as “Blankets” got many a spin over a plethora of different streaming platforms from us and now that we have the rest from the supergroup’s debut in house we don’t feel bad about patting ourselves on the back over that early prediction.
But I digress.
Did we say “supergroup”? Why yes! Yes, we did! And if you are a fan of the heavy scene in Boston then you’ll fer sure agree that bringing the bassist from Worshipper, the guitarist from Gozu, and the drummer of Sam Black Church together with the mucho prolific Jim Healey is a “super” idea on its’ own regardless of what they come up with musically based on the strength of their other output. Luckily, beyond the concept, Blood Lightning slays with a debut record that manages to not ape the sound of any of the respective members’ other outfits yet still kicks major ass with some extra thanks heaped upon engineer and producer Benny Grotto plus the mastering work by Alan Douches to fully realize the vision.
So what dos it sound like? Early Soundgarden mixed with early ’80’s Black Sabbath (Coincidentally, the group was borne from a 2019 Halloween tribute show covering Born Again) if we’re naming names but we’ll get to some of that later. For right now, holy hell! How did this quartet come up with this brilliant bombast of sound? Guitarist Doug Sherman already laid waste to our earholes with Gozu’s latest earlier in the year, Healey’s voice and all around artistry already does so much, drummer J.R. Roach is readying an upcoming SBC 35th anniversary reunion show at Worcester’s Palladium, and bassist Bob Maloney is currently finishing up a new Worshipper record. That said, we’d like to thank whatever Dark Lord these 4 sold their souls to so that our ears could experience some seriously sick shit in the form of Blood Lightning.
First up, “The Dying Starts” is a great fucking invitation to the BL party. Steady, strong, and shreddy with Sherman’s riffage right out front, Healey’s soulful bellow coming in hard, and Roach and Maloney conjuring up a formidable rhythmic foundation, the track is the perfect introduction for the uninformed and a solid unification of all the respective BL extra curricular works combined. “Hitting The Wall” has some serious “My Wave” feels as Sherman’s guitar pulsates to start and later on, “Face Eater” is this gnarly mix of both early Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osbourne (Think “Bark At The Moon” and “Run For The Hills” for the main shreds) before Healey gets to go at it during some particularly harmonious choruses.
We would never, EVER compare the great Jim Healey to the also great Chris Cornell. Both, as stated, great. And both very distinct. That said, there are some similarities happening here especially in “Bananaconda” and its’ ending with Healey going all over the place vocally and reminding us of Ultramega OK and Cornell’s really psychedelic/crazy stuff on that album. Add in some primal throttling from Roach, Maloney’s rumbling tones, and Sherman’s especially fuzzy riffs and the track is, as the kids say, lit.
Look, we hate singles. We don’t actually hate them (And we definitely cover a lot of them,) just prefer an album and context but get the reasoning/necessity. We love listening to stuff in our car so if it’s a single then it does nothing for us during a long commute. That said, we would (And kind of have already) listen to “Blankets” all fucking day if we absolutely had to. It’s dynamic, diabolical, and kind of just sums up the essence of what Blood Lightning is all about with the way the track twists and turns and, in turn, delivers a solid listening experience within the Heavy realm. And then “Disturbing The Priest” (Originally off Born Again by the almighty Black Sabbath) is like a full fledged version of “667” (Getting back to those Soundgarden sounds) before going to a whole ‘nother place with an airy atmosphere as Healey brings an effects-laden vocal rhythm that syncs up nicely with Maloney and Roach’s galloping before meeting up with Sherman’s monster riffage for a rad sonic showdown to close out the record.
Blood Lightning arrives on October 20th through Ripple Music. You can secure your copy now by heading here and for the latest from Blood Lightning, including a kickass album release show with KIND, Casket Rats, and Lipsmear at Middle East Upstairs on November 25th, follow the trail of socials by clicking here, here, or here.