Back in late August of last year Voodoo Johnson released their debut album 10,000 Horses. I have been enjoying this album an awful lot ever since getting my sticky mitts on a copy a short while ago. The heavily rocking tunes that VJ has always produced have been an aural addiction of mine from the first time that I came across them on MySpace just over two years ago, so I had been looking forwards to hearing this for some time. At times like this, I often find that in the anticipation during the wait, your imagination can often lead to disappointment once you finally get to that elusive first listen.
This was not the case with 10,000 Horses. The opening track ‘Headstone’ detonates this cluster bomb of solidly rocking tunes and nails you down, demanding your attention. It takes no prisoners from the start, as it begins with a volley of guitar, bass and drums leading into the vocals. It has a true rebellious edge. ‘Sin’ is just as hard edged and leads onto ‘Feel Karma,’ which just tops this opening trio of tracks, as it kicks out with an unstoppable vengeance.
‘End of the Empire’ follows suit, slowing the pace with a little retrospective melancholy. The harmonies in this superbly written song are just so good with some very subtle cello in the background. ‘You Will Never Know’ pounds its way up and out of the ashes, the attitude and direction rising once again as this powerful song punches out. ‘It Doesn’t Matter to Me’ is very much along the same lines, with an amazing heavy blues edge to the guitar sound.
‘Burn’ blasts away and takes a step into the final chapter of this album. ‘Nowhere Inbetween’ has been around for a while, but fits in so well. ‘Sleepwalker’ is a ballistic ballad which revolves around some innovative rhythms. ‘Rain’ is another ballad, this one has much less pace and is rather more genteel.
‘Never Make It Out Alive’ is the bonus track and works as a brilliant prologue. It sounds like a re-worked ‘Dirty Angel’ (another older song), but this does close the album very sweetly.
If you like Queens of the Stone Age, Diamond Head, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots or Audioslave, you will love Voodoo Johnson.
Shortly after the release of 10,000 Horses last year, VJ’s vocalist Kev Bayliss left the band, leaving them high and dry as they were booked in to support Europe on the UK dates of their ‘Balls and Banners’ tour. Nik Taylor-Stoaks from Vallenbrosa joined Voodoo Johnson at the mic just in time and the tour carried on.
I was able to get to the Bristol date of this tour and was simply blown away by the opening set that Voodoo Johnson played. As you can imagine on a major tour of such a big headline band the timing was very tight and VJ came on stage right on cue to a good sized audience who were eagerly waiting for VJ to start. We were not disappointed, VJ played a truly stonking little set that began with ‘Headstone’. This drew more and more people into the auditorium and then ‘Feel Karma’ was next. The atmosphere was charged with the hex of Voodoo Johnson and then we were treated to ‘Sin’. It was about this time when the PA’s kicked in properly, it always bugs as this always seems to happen to support bands! ‘Nowhere Inbetween’ was next leading onto the all new Voodoo Johnson song ‘Black Skies Mist’ (now available to purchase). The set was finished with ‘Seven Years’ and VJ left the stage amidst a great deal of well earned and deserved applause. This set was sensational, and the fact that Nik Taylor-Stoakes only had the chance of minimal practise sessions before taking to the stage with VJ made for an even greater impression.
10,000 Horses, is a wonderful debut album and a great deal of credit has to go to all of the players. Kev Bayliss is powerfully dynamic on the vocals and Carl and Paul Gethin on guitars could easily be the best guitar combo since the Young brothers. Rich Bellamy plays bass, his style adds plenty of punch whilst also sounding so smooth. Dave Barker is on the drums, manipulating and creating those VJ rhythms with true Voodoo style.
Since Nik has joined VJ their sound has really come together even more than ever. I personally feel that it has improved significantly, it has now gelled and fused together to an extent which is a true revelation in itself. Kev’s approach to the vocals added so much power to overall sound but also at times seemed to be taking over a little too much, overpowering the overall sound by drowning the rich instrumentation provided by the rest of VJ with just a little too much vocals. Nik’s slightly dirtier style of vocals loses none of the power but rocks just as hard. The new Voodoo Johnson sound is even harder and heavier due to this. VJ now sound even more unified as the balance has improved. There are so many good reasons why this band have been the most talked about new heavy rock act in the UK, now there are even more.
The new VJ song, ‘Black Skies Mist’ is available for purchase, I gave it a thorough testing as soon as it landed on the VJ MySpace music player and this was my instant reaction to it….
‘Black Skies Mist’ is a true gobsmacker of a hard-edged and powerful track by Voodoo Johnson, from the forthcoming new EP and written with Brian Tatler of Diamond Head. This truly heralds bright new beginnings from the mighty Voodoo Johnson. It is a true benchmark of a rock song, setting new standards and putting Voodoo Johnson firmly into to the global hard rock hall of honor.
This song is four minutes and fifty nine seconds of solid heavy rock joy. I have listened to it repeatedly on their space player as it has been up for a limited time and it is not possible to tire of it. The solid wall of guitars laid over such a lively set of drum rhythms which roll in and out of the choruses is just typical Voodoo Johnson class and style. The addition of Nik Taylor-Stoaks on vocals has been a cataclysmic move. Good things can come from the most impossible situations at times, and this new line up proves the point. You can hear the Diamond Head influence in this song but this does not detract or lessen the distinctive sound of Voodoo Johnson.
Right, I am going stop now. All I have to say is that this new song is pure aural sex – Voodoo Johnson tick all of the boxes while adding a few more!
For more on Voodoo Johnson: http://www.myspace.com/voodoojohnson