Thursday, August 20, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Screaming Eagles: Stand Up and Be Counted

Screaming Eagles

The latest independent band I'd like to present to you is Screaming Eagles, a hard rock band from Northern Ireland. I first became aware of them a couple of months ago and was really struck by their no-frills, straight ahead driving hard rock sound. It's very 1970s/80s sounding but with a modern feel, and a lot of fun. Sometimes you just want to rock out and have a good time listening to music. That's exactly what Screaming Eagles deliver. I was able to listen to their EP, entitled Save Me, and their brand new album Stand Up and Be Counted, which was released in July.  My track by track review is below, but before that, here's some more information about the band from a recent press release:

"Northern Ireland rock quartet Screaming Eagles, who achieved international recognition after their single ‘Rock N’ Roll Soul’ was featured on the hit US TV Show - Justified, will release their 10-track second album STAND UP AND BE COUNTED on 13th July, 2015, preceded by a multi-track EP and first single SAVE ME in June. The band, whose debut album ‘From the Flames’ was described by Classic Rock Magazine as “absolutely smokin’, hotter than hell, the work of a group burning up with fiery ambition,’ are signed to Worldwide-Distributing label ‘Off Your Rocka Records’, home of the Quireboys and Bonafide. 

“We had an incredible start to 2015 after signing a licensing agreement with Sony Music Pictures in the US,” said Chris Fry, Screaming Eagles’ lead vocalist, “who included our first single ‘Rock N’ Roll Soul’ on the first episode of the final season of Justified, to an audience of more than 4 million. We cannot wait to continue that success with the release of Stand Up and Be Counted and play it live to the masses. I’m extremely excited as when we got the final mixes through it sounded immense. I think it shows a progression, musically, with a mixture of what we do best - the Rock N’Roll anthemic sing along chorus’ and driving riffs, mixed with some darker rib-shaking belters." Of the first single "Save Me", Chris had this to say "it's a more grittier and intense sound than we're known for, from the sirens in the intro to the eerie guitar distortion, this song will live long in your memory and have you chanting the chorus in your sleep!" 

The first single from the album - a 7 track EP/single titled ‘Save Me’ will feature bonus material including a cover of Australian rock classic “Good Times” featuring guest vocals from Pontus Snibb of Bonafide as well as live material recorded at Hard Rock Hell 2013. The ‘Save Me’ video will debut on YouTube on 24 June via this link: https://youtu.be/VmtfMeMt8Os. Off Yer Rocka CEO Jonni Davis commented "we’ve watched our Irish Eagles with extreme interest since they won one of our national competitions and have seen their career accelerate in the UK, US, Germany and Australia 100 fold after the Justified release. This is exactly what we challenged them with for the next step and to say they have over delivered is an understatement." After exclusively debuting new album tracks at Hard Rock Hell Ibiza in May of this year, the band will soon go on tour including a date on the Main Stage at November’s Hard Rock Hell UK alongside Saxon and Black Label Society. Over the past 2 years Screaming Eagles have shared bills with the likes of Airbourne, UFO, Black Star Riders, Blue Oyster Cult, and The Answer, at various festivals such as Giants Of Rock, Minehead, The Great British Rock N Blues Festival, Skegness, Southern France Aquitane Showbike Montalivet and Hard Rock Hell, Wales and their biker edition in Ibiza."



Screaming Eagles are:

Chris Fry - vocals
Adrian McAleenan -  guitar
Ryan Lilly - bass guitar
Kyle Cruikshank - drums

Save Me EP




1. Good Times
The song sounds very much like mid-1970s AC/DC with crunchy guitars, steady drumming, and growling vocals.  The singer has some range and at spots sounds like Bon Scott or Brian Johnson from ACDC. The lyrics name check lots of classic rock tunes (Bony Maronie, Long Tall Sally, Short Fat Fannie, etc) and this is a fun opening track.

2. Hungry For More
From here on to the end of the EP, these are live recordings from Hard Rock Hell in Wales.  This tune has a really heavy riff like the best 1980s metal and sounds a bit like GNR (Guns n Roses) in terms of its sound, riff,  and guitar solo. Slash would be proud!


3. Down the River
The riff is out of the Angus Young songbook and crunchy! This tune is very catchy. 


4. Immigrant Song
A Led Zeppelin cover. Fry's vocals are a bit shaky when he tries to do the classic Robert Plant wails, but those would be extremely tough for anyone to do exactly as the man himself did. Who can sing like Plant circa 1970 anyway? Still, he does an admirable job, while musically it's a bit more metal-sounding than Zeppelin's version. That being said, they do an very good job on a tough cover of one of the defining Led Zeppelin tunes.


5. Blood
A brighter sounding song with a cool riff. There's a false ending at the four-minute mark before they come storming back for another couple of minutes, complete with a ripping guitar solo in middle. The sound reminds me a little bit of what a Black Crowes song crossed w/ACDC might sound like. Speaking of the rockers from Oz, the last couple of minutes morph into a cover of their song "(It's a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock and Roll)." Fun!


6. Rock and Roll Soul
This is the song that put the band on the map within the past year when it was used on US TV in the show Justified. It's got a pummeling riff and beat, a very Jimmy Page-ish guitar solo, and overall just awesome playing. There are a couple of fluffed guitar notes tucked in there but hey, this is live rock n roll and we don't care...it still sounds great! A great song and, for me, the highlight of the EP.


Stand Up and Be Counted:



1. Ready For the Fall

The album opens up with some thunderous drums and a massive guitar riff reminiscent of early 1980s Iron Maiden/Judas Priest. The nice thing about this song, and indeed all of the Screaming Eagles' songs, is that it is still very melodic and memorable. A nice, anthemic chorus rounds out this effective way to kick things off.

2. Save Me

One of the best songs on the album, starting off with some eerie sirens and guitar feedback before another very aggressive, chunky riff propels things along. There's not anything I can say that you can't hear for yourself in the video above...awesome song, I really dig it! 

3. Stand Up and Be Counted

The title track. It's got a cool ascending/descending riff and another anthemic vocal and chorus...I can imagine a room full of people bouncing up and down with their fists in the air singing along.  This song sounds a like what ACDC would sound like if they wrote far better melodies. 

4. Bow Down to the Blues

It starts off sort of like a late 1960s/early 1970s Led Zeppelin song before it gets into a chugging bluesy groove. Not one of the more memorable songs on the album but still solid and enjoyable.

5. Chase You Down

A heavy riff and drums kick it off before it gets into a shuffle-type blues groove. As above, a fun, short but sweet tune.

6. Get Out While I'm Ahead

Brooding riffs and arpeggios, some pulsating tom-tom beats build the song up at the beginning. Another crowd-pleasing chorus and a bit of a curveball as to my ears this song sounds a bit like Rush (musically) which is fine with me since I'm a huge Rush fan! 

7. Breakin' All the Rules

A slinky, bluesy riff with some subtle slide guitar in the background gives this song a very nice Southern rock/Black Crowes vibe before it gets into a cool open-string/alternating riff. A very southern, fun song.

8. Streets of Gold

Powerful, insistent riffing starts it off and there's a really trippy and great chorus/breakdown section.  The guitar solo is old-school and drenched in wah-wah, which is right in my wheelhouse. It again sounds a bit like Slash but is still wholly unique...some of the best playing on the whole album.

9. Screaming Eagles

The band's title song! It's got an insistent, pulsing riff and drums before they lock into the groove. Once again it has that 1970s/80s hard rock/metal type feel, with a chorus that shouts out that "screaming eagles gonna block out the sun!" A bit cheesy, perhaps, but great fun which comes through in the band's delivery. Another awesome guitar solo in the middle is augmented with some sampled dialogue and airplane/machine gun/war noises in the background, all the while the excellent solo keeps going.

10. 27 Club

The album closer. A really rocking tune with lyrics obliquely referencing the tragic members of the 27 club. One final ripping guitar solo in the middle, played over a menacing riff. Some really cool vocal "oh's" end the song are lain over the wailing guitar as the song and album come to an end.

All in all, Screaming Eagles are straight-out rock and roll. No ballads, no slow songs, just balls-out rock n roll.  These are songs where you want to raise your fist in the air (hence the entirely appropriate album cover!) and sing along to the choruses, headbanging along with the riffing and rhythm section.  Screaming Eagles have a sound that draws on several influences but never sounds derivative...in many cases, they improve upon the best of what their inspirations have to offer, and an added strength of theirs is the always underlying melodic instinct which ensures that most of these songs will stay in your head long after you're done listening to them. I know the band are gigging in the UK...I hope they're able to build on their US success of "Rock and Roll Soul" and are able to play some shows here, as I know it would be a really fun gig to see!

As always, SUPPORT INDEPENDENT MUSIC! Buy their albums, go see them live, and spread the word! You can buy Screaming Eagles' music on Amazon...if you like what you've heard here, check them out and support them by purchasing it...rock on!



2 comments:

  1. Yeah, reminds me a tad of Soundgarden too for some reason. I watched the doc on the Eagles (California country rock band), and really enjoyed it. Oh, channel surfing the past week I ran across a C-Span book discussion with Stephen Witt (How Music Got Free). http://www.c-span.org/search/?searchtype=All&query=stephen+witt

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    1. I can see the Soundgarden influence a bit, but to my ears definitely more AC/DC, Guns n Roses, and even Judas Priest...that late 1970s/early 1980s British heavy metal/hard rock sound with the GNR thrown in. I like it, though...fun stuff to rock out to!

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