Black Cat Bones are a tantalising rock and roll outfit, steeped in the traditions of old. The Liverpool band draw their influences from the guys who forged the genre from Willy Dixon, to Muddy Waters and to those who picked up the baton of the blues' baby: Free, Led Zep, Purple, Guns N' Roses and beyond. In fact, the band take their name from not only a line in Dixon's Hoochie Coochie Man, but from Free Guitarist Paul Kossoff's band of the same name; this kind of homage just shows you where the band sit on the scale.
There are snatches of harmonica and blues riffs to continue the lineage and of course, plenty of attention to detail on the rhythm and melody, but at the forefront of the Black Cat sound is the roaring rock vocals of Jonnie Hodson. Hodson's vocals have the rasp of Axl Rose and the blistering heart of Paul Rogers. When you put all these elements together Black Cat Bones stand out as one of the most exciting UK rock bands on the scene. Considering the Brits invented modern rock music, there's been far too much American influence of late with bands like Rival Sons and Black Stone Cherry. There's something about the raw, desperate, style of British rock that came from the damp, rain-soaked streets of this green and pleasant land and not the sun-soaked valleys of the US, that makes our rock something to treasure. Black Cat Bones embrace this quintessentially British sound from the opening of their new EP Down To The River, until the very end.Lust opens with a climatic 'I got My mojo!' before an army of sleazy guitars and thrusting percussion join in for this knee-trembler of a track. It's a good ol' fashioned dirty rock n roll riff, but the minor chord variation adds to the frustration of the track as Hodson roars, 'you're driving me insane.' The track builds with every rhythm and grind towards the middle 8 which is like a lap dance for your ears, culminating in the drums adding some support in building towards a very happy ending. It's a sophisticated and expertly delivered track from these guys who have clearly absorbed the potent sexuality from tracks like Feel Like Making Love and The Lemon Song.
Give You The World kicks the covers back to reveal a political commentary on greed and social injustice. It's a familiar subject, picked up once more but BCB pull it off with a suitable retro riff and a rebellious message not to take things lying down. “Don't accept that this is your fate, you don't have to comply”The dark edge of the guitars from Alan Rimmer and Adam Kerbache lend themselves to The Devil You Know. The story of a man awaiting the gallows draws parallels to Maiden's Hallowed Be Thy Name, but the feel of the track is certainly very different. Here we have something defiant, bold and fearless. The River turns up the blues influence for the final track, it's another solid riff heavy song that propels itself along with the fiery percussion from Ash Janes and Jamie Hayward, of course, those incendiary vocals.
In the four years that they have been together, Black Cat Bones have certainly focused their energies on developing an honest and stoic rock sound. There may be a tinge of American influence from time to time, in terms of bravado, but this album certainly behaves and feels like the classic British hard rock album that it is.
Groupie Rating 4/5