Is there a definitive recipe for making a successful heavy metal record? I’m not sure that there is one essential recipe but Oxford-based Desert Storm have pulled together a great set of ingredients that make up the heavy metal stew of “Forked Tongue”.
From the opening chords and growls of southern boogie that is ‘Cosmic Drips’, to the closing juggernaut of ‘Pocket Watch’, this is a total blast of a record, a blistering racket born in the bayous of Louisiana and Florida rather than amongst the dreaming spires of the famed university town. There are plenty of influences and reference points to grasp on to: a little bit of Down here, a smattering of Black Label Society there, a soupçon of Orange Goblin and a decent seasoning of Soundgarden cap off a thoroughly agreeable stew of rock n roll.
‘Cosmic Drips’ and ‘Ol Town’ might have been on mid period ZZ Top albums- if the good ole boys from Texas had been sponsored by Jack Daniel’s and had paid their Black Sabbath fan club memberships, that is. There’s some lovely backing vocals from Lauren Hayes too that add to the depth and subtlety of the songs- these aren’t just run of the mill bar room boogie tunes (not that there’s anything wrong with that of course).
‘Smokes ‘n’ Liquor’ has one of the dirtiest guitar riffs to crawl out of the metaphoric swamp and its neatly followed by the pounding and driving ‘The Jackal’ which has a headbanging riff that your neck won’t thank you for in the morning. Title track ‘Forked Tongues’ has a deceptively sedate and creeping opening few bars before landing on a riff that’s crunchier than a job lot of chocolate coated honeycomb and gets under your skin like tattoo ink.
‘Connected’, the most reflective song on the album has echoes of Pink Floyd and early, forlorn Hüsker Dü: it’s a lovely interlude amongst the harder edged gems of the rest of the record.
‘Pocket Watch’, the album’s closing track has a bucket load of Led Zeppelin influenced guitar parts that you’d forgive Jimmy Page, even in his dotage, giving his copyright lawyer a call but the song soon melds into a Bourbon soaked groove all of its own. Its all dark molasses and black coffee, voodoo and dark spirits: it’s a brilliant sign off.
“Forked Tongue” is a deceptive beast of a record: you think you’ve heard it all before and then something new, unexpected and delightful comes out of your speakers to keep you entranced, intrigued and eager to hear more. It’s dirty, it’s sludgy, it’s well worth your money.