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Black State Highway - 'Black State Highway' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/d9/bc/62/black-state-highway-black-state-highway-80-1418076063.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 08, 2014    
 
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An excellent debut and a highway well worth travelling down.

Black State Highway are a new Female-Fronted, classically influenced Hard Rock band that originally formed in 2010 at the Brighton Institute Of Modern Music. This multi-national band consists of Latvian singer Liva Steinberga, Scottish bassist Gordon Duncan, Swedish guitarist Yonnis “Jon” Crampton, English guitarist Olie Trethewey and drummer Harry Bland.  

Musically you can hear Classic Blues and Rock influences throughout the songs, but there’s a contemporary slant to their sound as well. I thought of several loose comparisons early on but eventually one example kept coming to mind... a Female-Fronted Thunder (albeit with a heavier Blues influence and some Stoner fuzziness in places). They share a similar bouncing rhythm section and a Ben Matthews crunchy riffs/Luke Morley squealing lead type combination to their British counterparts, although the axe work is a touch heavier in places.    

The self-titled debut kicks off with one of my highlights, ‘Conclusion’, which is built upon a groovy riff/sleazy lead pairing that pops up throughout the song. The chorus sees Steinberga’s vocals delivered with attitude and even a bit of a scowl. This is swiftly followed by my second favourite, the single release ‘Ain’t Got No’, it has a straight forward, Rocking progression, catchy chorus and some cool lead guitar work. It’s one of the songs where the Thunder analogy really came to the fore.

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Another that stood out is ‘Tekkers’ with its Funky churning progression in the verse before yet another infectious chorus and “orgasm-face pulling” solo. It’s the second song that that wouldn’t look out of place on a Thunder album. My last top pick is the album closer ‘Trouble’; it’s the most Classic Rock influenced song on the album and also probably the most up-tempo one. There’s a runaway progression and scaling lead that’s backed up by some memorable punchy vocals, especially in the chorus, by Steinberga. The album also includes the Bluesy Thunder-like ballad ‘Broken’, the Stoner and more modern ‘Free’ and ‘Common Man’ and lastly ‘Sacrifice’ with its chuntering riff that’s so filthy even Cillit Bang and Barry Scott couldn’t clean it up.     

As far as debuts go, this is a quality start from Black State Highway. As I’ve often said of Thunder, they may not set the world alight or be anything breathtakingly new, but their music is always highly entertaining and well played to boot. Crampton and Trethewey can really shred and fire up some cracking progressions and solos whilst Steinberga has a solid voice that suits the music she’s fronting; she sounds something along the lines of a young Julie Westlake or Lita Ford. If you like your Hard Rock to have a bit of variety, this is an excellent debut and a highway well worth travelling down.  

Dave Scott

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