Aussie fuzz rockers Arrowhead have hammered the Sydney underground since 2009, releasing two albums and an EP in that time but levelling many of their home city’s smaller venues in the process. Newly a quartet, third album Coven Of The Snake (Ripple Music) is nevertheless full of the expected trippy imagery but is titanic in its power and weight.
The opening title track immediately shows a more polished production than expected but this allows riffs, leads and Matt Cramp’s pummelling drums to push out their chests and beef up. Brett Pearl’s easy but unsettling vocal is perfectly suited to the sound, raising with the frenetic second half in which new guitarist Raff Iacurto displays some serious chops. Follow-up ‘All Seeing Eye’ is a slow, grooving beast, a rampant chorus effusing a real retro feel and seeing more electrifying lead bursts from Iacurto, while the latter half again ramps up the pace with Arron Fletcher’s galloping bassline.
The band does that sinister rumble well. ‘Ceremony Of The Skull’ is initially an Eastern-flavoured crawl and this transmutes into a colossal yet flexible riff, with that Pearl vocal soaring to the skies while the solo chimes and echoes around the mind. ‘Ghost Ship’ is a glorious balls-out rocker with Pearl growling out the lyrics, but here mysterious chants can be heard underneath the chorus which adds the eerie effect. ‘Root Of Evil’, however, is a much slower, grinding animal: each crushing chord, every beat, signaling the oncoming of the Occult feast.
‘Dopanaught’ is a spacey riff machine, the jaunty, fluctuating guitars giving the track a feel-good vibe while still remaining heavy and powerful. The penultimate ‘March Of The Reptiles’ is, as one would think, a more urgent knock on the door: riffs rattling along with Cramp and Fletcher’s muscular rhythms, Pearl’s powerful holler suiting both the music and the message. It’s another tune you just can’t help banging along to, unlike the magnificently-named closer ‘Golden Thunder Hawk’: an atmospheric beginning opening to a mid-paced brooding hulk, Pearl doing his best Dio impression with both lyrics and vocal but somehow making it utterly believable.
Yes, you’ve heard it all before, but there’s delightful, refreshing energy and might about Arrowhead that really does make Coven Of The Snake a thoroughly involving, enjoyable listen. More, more, more… .
7 / 10