Review Summary: Step aside Nickleback and Rise Against - true radio rock has finally arrived in the form of Heaven's Basement.
Over the years, there has been an increasing divide growing between modern and retro 80’s/early -90’s rock n roll and modern radio rock. The divide grows wider every day and fans on both sides sling insults at one another as if their lives depended on it. But I see a new dawn on the horizon: Heaven’s Basement. More than any other band I have listened to in the past ten years; Heaven’s Basement is a band that has seemingly done the impossible and fused 80’s gasoline-fueled cock rock with a modern production and influences spanning everything from AC/DC to Seether. But before you write these young lads off as just another modern rock band, please hear me out.
Heaven’s Basement hail from the U.K. and the British influence running throughout ‘Filthy Empire’ is almost palpable. With a heavy venomous British accent coursing through ‘I Am Electric’, Heaven’s Basement can also easily sound downright Americanized as well – just check out the chorus of ‘Nothing Left to Lose’ which I dare say somehow reminds me of Daughtry; that is if Daughtry had balls. The album opens with ‘Welcome Home’ – a barn burner of an opener and surely what is to be a crowd pleaser for many years to come. The chorus alone is worth the price of admission with Aaron Buchanan inviting you home to your rock n roll hell. The single ‘Fire, Fire’ brings up the rear of this one, two knockout punch and serves as an adrenaline kick to your senses with a verse line that doesn’t quit and a chorus that only makes you want to torch something or someone. The album dips a bit in quality with the previously mentioned third track, ‘Nothing Left to Lose”. Its verse are ace and in your face, but the chorus lets the song down, sounding a bit too much like the modern radio rock I despise so much *cough Nickleback*. ‘Lights Out in London’ picks up the pace nicely by slowing it down into a bluesy swagger-filled rocker with a chorus that is a true earworm. The shredding within ‘I Am Electric’ is mesmerizing, but if you can pry your ears away from the guitar prowess of Sid Glover for a moment, you can hear some of the best rock vocals spewing forth from the most promising vocalist since Sammy Hagar. And when the chorus hits, it hits like a battering ram carrying ten thousand volts and that’s the way I like it. ‘The Long Goodbye’ is a disappointing follow-up to the ‘Electric’ beast, but it does boast an inspired opening riff which sits nicely in the ‘Empire’.
You better bring your gasoline and torches for track seven, ‘Heartbreaking Son of a B**ch’. This is a song to bang your head to and also flip off the world around you. That’s right; it is that good. Buchanan sounds like an absolute monster on this song, tearing his vocal cords to shreds as Rob Ellershaw on bass and Chris Rivers behind the kit bring up a magnificent rhythm section. The quality dips for the last time on ‘Be Somebody’ – a track that reminds me a little too much of Seether. If any track on this album could be considered filler, this one would fit the bill. That’s not to say this track is garbage, it just does not possess the quality of rip-roaring rock that preceded it. The verses are more laidback and the chorus is boring and incredibly simplistic for a band that has so much potential. The following ‘Can’t Let Go’ picks up the pace quickly and soon your head is bobbing along to one of the catchiest songs released in 2013 yet. All I have to ask is: if this does not get airplay, what will? The ballad of ‘Filthy Empire’ finally arrives as track number and ‘The Price We Pay’ is not quite as bad as it could have been. Still, the album at this point needs one last pick-me-up and the last two tracks ‘Jump Back’ and ‘Executioner’s Day’ are up to the task. Both tracks boast lethal solos and killer vocal lines – just check out the galloping swagger of ‘Executioner’s Day’ for your daily dose of headbanging and raging.
As a whole, ‘Filthy Empire’ is chalk-full of great aggressive numbers as well as catchy arena anthems which should whip the crowd into frenzy within seconds. The sheer ability and ferocity with which this young British band plays is truly inspiring and delightfully gives modern rock a stern kick in the ass. Heaven’s Basement is just what the doctor ordered, releasing a monstrous debut which should appeal to both young and old rock fans alike. Anyone who considers himself a fan of the genre should readily pick this beast up as it is already heaped into my top ten of the year so far. Well, what are you waiting for? The gate is open – now is the time to enter the basement of Heaven into a filthy empire of rock n roll damnation!