Review Summary: Drugs, poker, Nightstalker…
There are certain albums that have an increased importance within a band’s discography. Not only because musically they might be considered as superior to what followed or preceded them, but due to a number of reasons that have to do with the actual existence of the band. For Greek stoners Nightstalker, what followed the artistically successful Use
, was a period of instability with member changes, drug abuse, limited inspiration and eventually loss of direction. Therefore, the fact that it took eight years to record a full length follow-up to the debut wasn’t a shock. What was surprising though was the quality of music contained on the band’s sophomore effort.
Just A Burn
is one of those albums that simply don’t fvck around, containing no frills heavy rock. Nightstalker’s influence comes mainly from Black Sabbath and Hawkwind along with some proto-punk like MC5. Most tracks follow the pattern of introduction, leading to a couple of verses that result in a highly addictive chorus. And if that reads like a knock on Nightstalker’s music, it’s not, because that’s exactly where the band excels; straightforward heavy rock with solid songwriting and numerous hooks.
For most part, the LP is a mid-tempo affair with infectious grooves such as the ones contained in “Line”, “Iron” and the dark, doomy “Voodoo U Do”. However, Just A Burn
is not a one trick pony as there are uptempo songs in the form of “Don’t Blow My High”, the title track, “Staripper” and the Hawkwind on steroids “All Around” and “Silver Shark”. Interestingly, one can also find a couple of ballads in the form of “Explode” and “Shadows”. The former showcases the guitarist’s versatility with an emotional bluesy solo while the latter is the band’s “Planet Caravan”.
It has to be noted that everyone on the band pulls his own weight, as the album probably features singer Argy’s best overall vocal performance, prominent bass as the one evident on “Give It All” and mostly top-class guitar playing. Not only there is an array of memorable riffs, but the guitar tone is perfect for this style of music as it’s warm and thick. In essence, Nightstalker share a lot of similar traits with the hard rock act of the ‘70s in how they approach songwriting and performance. Nevertheless, if one wanted to make a modern comparison, it would definitely be Monster Magnet, but with a slightly reduced space element and an increased straightforward sound.
To sum up, the Greeks’ selling point is execution rather innovation but they do it at a very high level while adding their own finishing touches. For some weird reason, they haven’t become as well-known as Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu or The Atomic Bitchwax but Just A Burn
can certainly give those acts’ greatest achievements a run for their money.