Known for their incendiary live shows, Avalanche Party are a feral garage rock 5 piece from the North Yorkshire Moors. Cited by Radio 1 as “the most exciting rock ‘n’ roll band in the UK right now”, singer Jordan Bell and his band of miscreants have a lot to live up to with their debut album ’24 Carat Diamond Trephine’. Their raw, live energy is not at question here, the question is can they transfer that wild, untamed energy from the hot and sweaty UK clubs to record? Let’s drop the needle and turn it up to 11!
Opener ‘El Dorado’ lulls the listener into a false sense of security with its haunting vibes. It creates stark imagery in black and white with stabs of piano and understated harmonica, as singer Jordan Bell croons his lyrics softly, almost spoken word. This murder ballad is a more poetic and cinematic introduction to the album in pure Nick Cave/Warren Ellis style. As an opening track it works perfectly and much better in the context of an album than as a standalone track.
Let’s get one thing straight, this is not a party album, this is a dark and desolate trip, much like the cold and rugged terrain where Avalanche Party reside. Recorded in York last December, it has the ghost of close friend Dale Barklay (The Amazing Snakeheads/As It Moves frontman) all over it. Dale was a big influence on the band in the last few years of his life and his energy is kept alive here.
‘Bugzy’ and ‘7’ follow the opener in quick succession. The former is a 70’s inspired Doors/Stooges groover with added Avalanche eccentricities. The latter, a high octane blast of punk rock noise that captures the feel of an Avalanche Party gig to maximum effect.
‘Howl’ has 70’s glam vibes from the off with hand claps and cool as you like vocalisin’, coming on like early Bowie meets The Birthday Party. A great, anthemic chorus takes things up a level. It’s a good place to be.
Already, this is the sound of a band who are riding the crest of a wave. 5 years of constant touring, honing their craft in sweaty clubs and festival stages all over the world has seen Avalanche Party come of age; it truly feels like this is their time.
But while the melodies and refrains are instant and lasting, it is not an easy listen. This is an album of stark contrasts and sonically seductive moments. To go from the piano led ‘Hey Misdemeanour’ with its haunting female backing vocals and strings n’ things, to the relentless and unnerving ‘Playing Field Blues’ with its stabs of guitar, drums and wailing vocals, and to make it sound like it is just meant to be…this is something truly special and something their contemporaries cannot match.
Props to the rhythm section of Joe Bell (bass) and Kane Waterfield (drums), they absolutely kill it on this record. Falsetto vocals come to light throughout bringing an epic grandiose feel to the likes of ‘Cruel Madness’ and the trashy but pumping ‘Milk And Sunlight Is A Heavy Dream’.
If you were a new band and you had a song like ‘Rebel Forever’ in your arsenal, you would probably open the album with it, but with Avalanche Party you can expect the unexpected. They close the album in style with a song that can outdo Fontaines DC in the “who can sound like Joy Division the most” stakes, and they sign off with an absolute banger. High octane, edgy rock ‘n’ roll noise just the way we like it.
Most bands are at their best on their first album and spend the rest of their careers trying to reach the same dizzy heights. If this is Avalanche Party’s piece de resistance, then so be it. Its early days, but I feel whatever they do in the future, this will be go down in history as their ‘In Utero’, their very own ‘The Holy Bible’. ’24 Carat Diamond Trephine’ is Avalanche Party’s defining moment, and one of the best debut album of the year.
Buy 24 Carat Diamond Trephine Here
Author: Ben Hughes