Gypsy Chief GoliathI know what you’re thinking, and yes it is an awful name. It sounds like one of those names cooked up by a Japanese band of almost random English words like Peanut Butter Wolf or Flower Travelling Band. Being from Ontario, Canada they really have no excuse.

Mind you, I think we should forgive them the dodgy moniker because elsewhere this six-piece get an awful lot right. Lead by Al ‘The Yeti’ Bones on vocals and guitar, these guys have been making music in various local stoner bands since the late 1990’s. They claim that GCG (let’s just agree to shorten it for my sake) is where they’ve got it together and decided to get serious. They certainly have their own identity, which is a good start. The band cite Thin Lizzy as a big influence and the album certainly is not short on big melodic but hard rocking tunes – check the intro to ‘Fought For Death’ for a classic twin guitar melody. However, stoner, blues and groove metal are the bedrocks of their sound and what gives them an extra edge is the harmonica playing of Brodie Stevenson, giving an authentic old-school bluesy swing to their songs with the band leaving space for Stevenson to express himself. It means that despite three guitarists there is a consistent good-time vibe. It’s true, though, that Al ‘The Yeti’ is centre stage in all these songs, his voice sounding like a gnarlier Phil Anselmo, and at times his scenery-chewing performance, where every word is sort of rolled around the mouth like chewing tobacco and spat out, can be a little off-putting.

It’s the tunes, though, that you’ll take away from your listening experience here and there’s no slacking on the quality across the ten tunes. Pick of the bunch is “St Covens Tavern”, a drinking song with more hooks than a bar full of pirate amputees and an awesome harp solo from Stevenson. ‘Got No Soul’ is all Aerosmith-style-funk-meets-Pantera-crunch,showing off the band’s musical chops, and equally delightful is ‘Are You Pulling Through’, a sort-of death metal/doom/ blues hybrid.

‘New Machines of the Night’ contains bags of character, flair and heaviness and will satisfy most metal lovers. This album is a deep and lasting joy.

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