Proving once again that metal never really dies here come The Almighty with a collection of all their best bits from a career that spanned 13 years. Frankly it’s a little bit frightening for those of us who can remember their first single coming out and then scribbling the band name on their school books, but it’s just possible that some of these tracks will find their way into the hearts of the new, younger metal crowd.
What is really interesting about this collection is that you can almost chart the progress of the metal scene over the years in relation to the types of song that The Almighty were writing at the time.
For example opening shots Destroyed and Power hark back to a time when Guns ‘n Roses straddled the planet with a bottle of JD in one hand and a syringe in the other. Chuck in the likes of Wild and Wonderful and Free n Easy and you’ve got an British rock band tapping into the sleaze sound of LA and giving it a very different flavour. There’s little doubt that the LA scene influenced The Almighty’s sound early on, Ricky Warwick even manages to sound American despite being Scottish (although he’s since relocated to the States). Despite this, there’s a distinct punk aura to proceedings that prevent these songs sounding like homage and instead make them sound like huge party tunes.
Glossing over the sincere but ultimately awful Devil’s Toy which could well have been the inspiration for David Brent’s Freelove Highway, we find The Almighty embracing a new future. By 1993 rocking like Motley Crüe had become a little bit tired, and hair bands were all but dead. The tight production and thunderous of Metallica were pushing the boundaries of metal whilst the scene in Seattle had made stars of the likes of Alice In Chains and Soundgarden.
The change in musical climate is evident in The Almighty’s music from this period as they changed direction just enough to stay alive, whether or not this was a conscious decision is open to debate. Addiction grinds with a new found vigour (and in reality it’s not a million miles away from Alice In Chains’ We Die Young). The guitars are compressed and aggressive and Warwick’s vocals are filled with something approaching emotion, which is a gigantic step away from a band who professed to living free and easy a few years previously.
The transition from being a rock band to being a full on metal band was complete by 1994 and the massively underrated album Crank. Wrench and Jonestown Mind are included here, and are hidden gems. These songs are crammed with attitude, huge riffs, and thundering drums. They’re probably the best thing The Almighty did.
By 1996, The Almighty had headed off in a new power pop direction. All Sussed out is replete with a ‘funky’ horn section and slightly punky guitar parts. It sounds like a band treading water, unsure of where to go next. It’s by no means a bad tune, just entirely anonymous.
A single track from 2001’s Psycho-Narco album finishes things off in suitably terse fashion. Warwick bangs on about ‘Guns, junk, sex, Elvis’ and that kind of thing while his band thrash away like Helmet behind him and thus completing the band’s chameleon like adventure through the various metal genres over their career.
This anthology this will no doubt find its way into the hands of a few old dogs who want to re-live the old days. Whether it will prick the sensibilities of anyone else remains to be seen, but the songs here, despite their occasionally derivative nature prove that on their day The Almighty could take on anyone and win.