Los Angeles’ The Warlocks are back with no less than their tenth studio album The Chain, which was released on Los Angeles based label Cleopatra Records on Friday. Describing it as “creamy, dreamy, glass breaking-style storytelling,” frontman Bobby Hecksher sets the scene for what is to come.
The Chain was recorded by The Warlocks over the course of a few weeks and co-produced by Hecksher and Rob Campanella at Campanella’s Figment Studios in Lake Hollywood and in it The Warlocks examine life and the USA justice system. “We’re telling a story this time,” Hecksher explains about the album’s ripped-from-the-headlines concept, which he explains had been percolating for a few years before it suddenly came to him with the delirious intensity of a fever-soaked dream, like that “out-of-body experience you get at a show when you’re drenched in sweat and suddenly feel so alive.” That concept, Hecksher affirms, is based around “a Bonnie and Clyde-ish twenty-something couple who rob a bank but get caught and then are cast down the bottomless pit of our justice system. The main characters, Rocky and Diamond, come from different means and thus have very different outcomes. It’s a loose collection of ‘you got f*cked and swept under the rug’ type feelings revealed amid happy songs about their relationship, provided as a kind of relief.”
Opening with ‘Dear Son’ they waste no time in marking their territory, the layered guitars mask hazy vocals which soothe. The Warlocks have mastered the rock n roll ballad, this being another prime example of that talent. ‘The Robbery’ is a tripped out instrumental that would work well in any movie, with its driving beat and psychedelic progressions. After that interlude ‘Mr. Boogie Man’ has a haunting countenance that lingers long after it has passed and ‘Double Life’ continues in a similar vein, with Western-esq guitar riffs thrown in for good measure; they make for a stunning double header that warrants repeat listens. In contract ‘We Don’t Need Money’ and ‘You Stooge You’ up the intensity with lashings of fuzz, intrinsically layered guitars and an ever driving, almost motorik beat that underpins the seeming chaos.
‘Sucking Out Your Soul’ features chant like vocals that create a natural rhythm and when the rest of the elements added, this track has the wow factor. Only The Warlocks can produce this kind of genius and make it sound effortless. ‘Have Mercy on Me’ and ‘Feel No Pain/You Hurt Me’ show the bands softer, delicate side with heartfelt lyrics and intricate details that can be heard absent the heavy guitars. Some bands wouldn’t be able to pull off this vast difference in styles, but The Warlocks skill and musical mastery allows it without query. Concluding ‘I’m Not Good Enough/Party Like We Used To’ ties the album up with a combination of a bit everything that has preceded and is the perfect end.
This album sees The Warlocks at their very best, taking bits of everything they have learnt and polishing it to a dazzling gleam. Not many bands are this good, for this long, The Warlocks are better. Easily a contender for album of the year.