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Album Of The Month August 2017
Rabid Bitch Of The North | ‘Nothing But A Bitter Taste’

There’s an authenticity deficit in metal.

Or at least in the place most of it lives: granted, if you know where you’re going, you’ll never stray far from people who mean it.

But I’m sure you understand me. We are surrounded by bores and impressionables.

I’ve waxed lyrical alreday about RBOTN’s lack of pretence, honest approach and infectious enthusiasm. The only trouble in the past was a sort of eccentricity in the compositions that just kept them from being the fully formed article.

Well, the dangdest thing has happened.

They’ve now turned exactly that eccentricity into an absolute virtue. They have found themselves, and now use their idiosyncracy like a weapon.

Downtown Hunt

All the things you love about them remain firmly in place. Joe’s vocals have that Lawless / Diamond falsetto rasp just down, and the songs are as varied and left of centre as ever.

What makes the difference this time though is just the absolute fucking coolness of what they do: to wit, songs like the absolutely stellar ‘Chance’.

The guitar is metallic, in a way that KK Downing might have had it around ‘Electric Eye’; the beat is downtown hunt from 2045. The pre-chorus is masterfully syncopated and the guitar riff is to die for – as is the hammer-ons glissandoing into that low E chord… it’s just a thing of perfection in that short moment.

All but every song is memorable.

And then there’s the mix. Not raw, just right, authentic, honest, real. Loads of room for the air to interact with every single element of it – the drums, the guitar, even the bass and most certainly the vocals.

Slough Feg’s spirit suffuses it, particularly on the title track, while a crispy Cirith Ungol legenda seems to run through it as well.

In a more traditionalist mood, you can hear Horslips bursting out of ‘Gilded Men’, with its swing time signature and bite.

‘Defending Two Castles’ makes a reappearance from the tape of the same name (reviewed yonks ago), and it’s a good reversion. ‘Demon Mind’ has Joe on absolutely blistering falsetto with a killer singalong chorus.

Funny Story

I’m just lost for further praise. So… you want some critical points?

Well, I’d love some guitar harmonies and real sweepy and/or ballsy solos over all this, and there isnt any of that.

But who can complain with the rhythm guitar shift put in here, which is about voice and touch rather and a signature sound, rather than all the flash?

Every single damn part of it is so them that it’s a joyful celebration of pure metal, unencumbered by trend, compression, expectation or condescention of any kind.

I’ve been absolutely loving it, and for that reason it’s an easy Album Of The Month.

Funny story, just to finish. I dont know the band or anything. But I did once stack shelves in a big name supermarket.

One night I was filling out the margarine when I said to a girl I worked with “what’s the mad graffiti in the Holy Lands, saying ‘Rabid Bitch Of The North’?

And she said it was about her, sprayed there by an ex.

Was it one of the band?

I need to know. Because if not, then it’s still a shit name!

5/5 – Earl Grey ::: 14/08/17

  1. Yeah the graffiti was Me, Joe and a house mate of mine, one night and we spray painted it everywhere for the hell of it. The girl was lying though as it was never about a girl. She’s just tried to steal some of the glory.

    This would have bed room era Rabid Bitch of the North, and we figured if we sprayed it everywhere, we’d be building recognition for ourselves. Must have been around 2002 the first batch of names where sprayed.

    I had forgotten all about it until I read this review.

    hahaha those were the days.

  2. doomschmoker Says:

    I remember that graffiti on a wall opposite my Granny’s house on Windsor Rd, just off Lisburn Rd, way back then!

  3. Yeah that’s right, I didn’t do any of the graffiti off the Lisburn road, that was Joe and house mate guy I used to live with, I only did the stuff off Fitzroy Avenue (at the bottom), then around the back of Fitzroy, where buses passing up University Avenue would be able to clearly see it on a wall at the back of someone’s house overlooking some waste ground. I think quite a few people on the bus into town in the mornings saw that as it seems to be the most commonly cited reference to the old “Rabid bitch of the North” campaign. Probably all that has changed now. But the Windsor Rd one was another. It probably appeared actually close to a communist hammer and sickle bit of graffiti as well, as that same house mate was a big communist type, and he sprayed some hammer and sickles about the place whilst doing the band name also. Kinda funny that anyone remembers that but also cool.

  4. Great review for some great music. Yes I’ve only heard ‘The Missionary’ but if that’s anything to go by then I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album. Well done cousin Gerry and all the lads in the band …… you’ve worked hard for this and so it’s thoroughly deserved. And as an add on to the funny story I can tell you that in Gerry’s pre ‘Rabid Bitch of the North’ years he moonlighted as a Motörhead advertising dude. Once he stayed down minding our granny and in between running to get buckets of coal and setting up bowls of Weetabix he managed to write Motörhead about 30 times in varying designs all around our local swing park!!! To this day no one knows who did that ……. except me!!! Brilliant! Ok – where can I get this on vinyl?

  5. Black Shepherd Says:

    Will give the album a listen because those vocals are incredible, but everything else about the track The Missionary was safe, predictable, lacking any kind of shine. Seems to be going down well on YouTube though so, all the best.

  6. I’m curious that Missionary was picked. It fits perfectly on the album in sequence, but defo stuff like ‘Chance’ would be much more attention grabbing.

  7. Sorry it wasn’t to your taste. I don’t write songs thinking is it safe or unsafe, I just write songs I like the sound off. Plenty of people seem to be enjoying it though so that’s good.

    Jude I will be in touch mate, I remember those days

  8. Echo the vocal praise – they sound epic, haven’t heard many on this isle that can go that high and still have power and grit combined but have to agree the song presented doesn’t have the wow factor I was expecting after reading the review.

  9. As ever, with 99% of reviews, the individual vid is a bad yardstick. Give the album the time. It’s brilliant.

  10. Panopticon Says:

    Although I enjoyed the song, after reading the review I was most certainly underwhelmed. They’re playing Limerick this Friday and I’ll go in and check it out. I have a feeling I’ll enjoy it. I’ll pick up the album if as you say there is better material than that song.

  11. The vocals really are top notch, and sound even better than I recall, both in range and in melody development.

    Judging by one song isn’t enough, but the lack of a second guitar and harmonies doesn’t draw me in to want to listen more. The rhythm playing is fantastic and main legato riff is very cool, but my attention fades during the long passages of riffs sans vocals, guitar harmonies and same mid paced drum patterns.

    Never have to be apologetic for doing and writing what you love though and lots of people will dig it.

  12. Harley Hexxe Says:

    I’ve been fortunate enough to have previewed almost all of the tracks on this album while it was still being made, and I have to say I was impressed with the gut-level honesty of this band. There is no pretense to the music of RBOTN.

    I’ve also played several of the tracks sent to me, for a lot of the metal-heads I know here in the USA, and there is a growing curiosity for the band on this side of the big pond, as they are asking for more.

    A video is not a complete representation of a band, but just one facet of a diamond. There is definitely much more to this album that got my attention, and I’m looking forward to the CD.

    Thank you for sharing Gerry, and keep on doing it. This is great composition.

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