The Shrine – Cruel World EP

Despite a brief flirtation with the Century Media label, the decade-long career of Los Angeles grease punks The Shrine has sailed largely deserted seas. As the line-up has grown, however, so has the power of the band’s sound, with new EP Cruel World (Annihilator Records) adding motorised elements to their sleazy Heavy Rock base.

The opening title track comes out with a hard Lenny Kravitz sensibility, but when the varied pitch of the choris kicks in it’s all ripping pace and syncopated patterns. Josh Landau flicks between that gravelly Kravitz roar and barely-controlled falsetto harmonies, but he’s backed by some ZZTop-flavoured lead riffs and a red-hot rhythm section. ‘Dance On A Razor’s Edge’ is a blend of Foo Fighters and a Punky Sabbath, Landau hitting Ozbourne vocal levels while an Iommi-esque riff packs a speedy punch alongside rhythmic hammer grooves and squealing solos.

A slightly clichéd rant introduces ‘The Taste Of Blood’ before an energetic but trite buzzsaw romp evokes a very pissed off Eddie and the Hot Rods. It’s never a good thing, however, when a four-track EP is sounding tired and uninspiring well before the close, and any hint of progression is utterly flattened by closer ‘She Is Never Satisfied’: effusing an adolescent approach to Rock ‘n’ Roll harking back to the mid 80s and visions of fiery but unimaginative upstarts Wolfsbane.

Rock music should be full of energy and there’s no real harm in reaching back to the old principles of balls-out effrontery, as long as the protagonists are able to provide their own identity and a little bit of something different. Sadly, apart from the rampaging vim, The Shrine bring little else to the party.

6 / 10