Bad Omen Records – Out Now.

Ask anyone in the music business what the two basic elements for achieving commercial success are (apart from talent, obviously), and you are bound to hear among the answers ‘good timing’ and ‘luck’. These, sadly, have been the two very elements that have been eluding heavy Rock ‘n ‘Rollers Asomvel for the best part of twenty (!) years.

After many years of trying to make themselves noticed, in 2009 the band lost its long term bassist/vocalist Jay-Jay Winter in a road accident and it was only after Angel Witch bassist and Bad Omen Records owner Will Palmer decided to sign them to his new label that the British trio managed to finally get a break. What ‘forced’ Mr. Palmer to sign Asomvel to his newly-founded label? The answer lies in the band’s debut full length entitled “Knuckle Duster”.

Every time the term heavy Rock ‘n ‘Roll is mentioned in an album review there is one band that immediately comes to mind and that is Lemmy Kilmister’s Motorhead – the very band at whose altar the three members of Asomvel place their musical offerings in the hope of eternal inspiration.

Actually, it is the sounds of Motorhead’s classic line up of Lemmy-Clarke-Taylor that these British noisemakers are trying to recreate and, as far as I am concerned, they are the first band which has managed to achieve this in a fairly convincing way. Guitars are flamboyant and dirty, drums are prominent and heavy pounding and the newly-added bassist/vocalist Conan has managed to pay credit to the sounds described without coming across as a Lemmy copycat.

It is, however, because of these very attributes that Motorhead fans’ reaction will sway, as some will undoubtedly find Asomvel’s ability to sound like their idols quite attractive, while others will most likely dismiss them as mere clones.

Being a massive fan of Motorhead’s classic era (1976-1982) I had no problem at all connecting to the opening mid-tempo riff of “Dead Set On Livin’”, a composition which also features a flamboyant solo which “Fast” Eddie Clark would most definitely approve of.

“Cash Whore” and “Sheep In Wolf’s Clothing” are enjoyable and pretty generic sounding compositions, so it is only when the high energy catchy riff and the anthemic refrain of the four minute “Trash Talker” make their presence truly felt that you get to realise what Asomvel are capable of producing with regards original material.

Slower in tempo, but equally impressive on an emotional level, “Waster” allows Conan to prove that the band’s decision to entrust him with the position of front man was truly justified, while the guitar work on “Shoot Ya Down” will raise the album’s energy levels high.

With the exception of “Wrecking Ball”, the second half of the album may not contain material that can compete with the above-mentioned stand out tracks but it is, nevertheless, fairly entertaining and full of energy.

It took me a long time to decide on an appropriate rating for “Knuckle Duster”, so I would not be at all surprised if I were to find out that most of you out there are facing a similar predicament.

Whereas what we are hearing can hardly be described as original, this trio has clearly put its heart and soul into the eleven compositions on “Knuckle Duster” and it is perhaps their honesty, coupled with their natural ability to perform this type of music, that will help them win over those of you who are attracted to this type of dirty and uncompromising sound.

Rating: ***½ (3.5/5.0)

John Stefanis

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