Are you a fan of '80s horror movie hair metal soundtracks like Fright Night or Dario Argento's Demons 2? These soundtracks have the utterly beguiling effect of transforming otherwise atrocious arena rock into a kind of druggy, glammy, hedonistic score for no good deeds. It retroactively strips away the bullshit machismo underpinning most hair metal and plays up the femme-y, stylish, sexual glamour of fast cars, fast guitars, tight pants and big hair.
The Jono EP, from Adelaide, Australia's BatHawk, performs a similar function, polishing ‘80s glam rock into a stylish, tight, taut EP of raging guitars, flying V solos, operatic vocals and driving percussion. It's similar to bands like Danzig or The Misfits, or modern day spookabilly like Tiger Army. These bands take trashy, retro horror and polish it like a scalpel, making it sleek and stylish while still retaining the adrenaline and catharsis of true punk/metal.
Take album opener "Fear Itself” which owes a sonic allegiance to Tiger Army's "Santa Clara Twilight.” Tiger Army’s ode to The Lost Boys updated the '80s glam with timeless rockabilly riffs, which were captured in glorious, glowing hi-fi. "Fear Itself" achieves a similar effect, while still retaining a bit of raw, lo-fi grit. Infectious rhythm guitars and catchy vocal harmonies lodge in your brain like a fever dream, making you want to bash your head and break bottles. "Go" on the other hand, will make you stomp the gas pedal through the floorboards with your platform heels,on your way to the local graveyard. Can't be late! No telling what might happen then.
It must be noted that, for the most part, I totally hate anything smacking of hair metal in any way. It's usually too shriek-y and squealing for these ears, which prefers their guitars chugging like a Sherman tank and vocals to sound like someone possessed by some Ancient Evil. While I always strive to transcend my personal biases, when writing reviews, it's hard sometimes. It's always noteworthy when someone forces me to re-evaluate my position on a previously reviled genre. BatHawk strips away the irony of 2000s arena rock revivalists like The Darkness and play with a deadly earnestness. They clearly love this shit, and you will too!
Yet again, Australia reveals itself as one of the last holdouts for true rock n' roll! Maybe there's life in those old six strings yet!
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