Sons Of Lazareth – Blue Skies Back To Gray

No, it’s not a quirky mix of Lazarus and Nazareth. Italian Stoner / Grunge quartet Sons Of Lazareth are apparently named after an old family farmstead and, after four years on the road, debut album Blue Skies Back To Gray (Argonauta Records) is about to open up these jolly revheads to the wider market.

The filthy Blues guitar and solowork of ‘Palm Desert’s Blues’ opens up proceedings and gives way to the bar-room brawl of ‘Escape to Nowhere’, a rattling romp with tons of groove and a surprising mix of rough and clean vocals. It’s a track featuring a number of styles encompassing such diversity as AC/DC and the Reggae-influenced areas of The Police. The ensuing ‘Vultures’ is a lighter, funkier Soundgarden, vocalist Alessandro D’Amato coming over all Chris Cornell, a heavy riff giving way to breezier choruses which bring a smile to the face.

The Stoner template is an often inflexible one, yet Sons of Lazareth manage to cleanse that atmosphere without varying the sound too much. The crunchy, sleazy Cowboy Rock of ‘Hallee Road’ sees some soft yet effective leadwork and Marcello Pinna’s fat basslines smooth the dirty riffs while heartfelt melodies add to the joyful vibe. The syncopated drumming of ‘Fragile’, meanwhile, doesn’t detract from the anguished, somewhat Prog Metal feel of this balladic track, not unlike Karnivool’s more angst-ridden moments: and despite the slow-burning nature of ‘Punctually Late’ there’s a light-hearted bounce which adds to the enjoyment.

The gorgeous interlude ‘Beautiful Haze’ segues into the delightfully titled ‘Don’t Come Looking For Me, Cut the Crap’: a robust, punchy rhythm fest which again switches tempo without losing its boundless electricity. ‘My City’ is a weak point, a prosaic if groove-laden Rock ‘n’ Roll outing, leading to epilogue ‘Palm Desert Reverse’, an eerie outro to a derivative but energetic and involving album.

There’s progress to be made, but Argonauta are building a huge reputation for signing great-quality heavy acts with a little bit of something different, and there’s little doubt that Sons of Lazareth, given time and experience, will fit that bill.

6.5 /10

PAUL QUINN