Sound — 9
Heaven's Basement is a rock band from the UK renowned for their energetic live performances and raw, dirty rock songs. Formed in 2008, Heaven's Basement have played at major festivals such as Sonisphere and Download, and have toured with the likes of Papa Roach, Buckcherry, Black Stone Cherry, Seether and most notably played their seventh ever gig in a stadium supporting Bon Jovi. Since their formation they've released two EPs and have undergone several line-up changes but now they have finally put out their debut album: "Filthy Empire". "Filthy Empire" was recorded in eight days by singer Aaron Buchanan, guitarist Sid Glover, bassist Rob Ellershaw and drummer Chris Rivers. Most of the tracks were also written in those eight days, yet the album doesn't sound rushed or unfinished: it sounds dirty and raw, brimming with attitude, like rock n roll should do. From start to finish Heaven's Basement remind us what rock can sound like, with massive rock riffs, epic sing-a-long choruses, pounding basslines and drums driving the whole record forward. Album opener "Welcome Home" wastes no time in getting down to business, grabbing attention with sleazy guitar and electric vocals reminiscent of "Appetite" era Guns N' Roses. Then lead single "Fire, Fire" kicks in with pounding drums and dirty riffs, featuring one chaotic moment where all band members are soloing together. This is followed up by the second single "Nothing Left To Lose" which sees Aaron and Sid snarl out lines of the verse over an infectiously dirty guitar riff before breaking into a stadium sing-a-long chorus. The pace is then slowed slightly for bluesy number "When The Lights Go Out In London" which features one of the best choruses on the record. The song paints a dark picture, suited to the bluesy guitar. "I Am Electric" takes things back up a notch with heavy punk at a breakneck pace that tears a through the album like a lightning bolt. We are also treated to a few songs from previous EPs that they've re-recorded, one such track being "The Long Goodbye", which seriously benefits from the new energy Heaven's Basement have brought to it. It sounds dark in places but has a very catchy melody and a great solo. "Heartbreaking Son Of A B*tch" hurtles through like runaway train, brimming with attitude and rock n roll swagger before "Be Somebody", which may be one of the most mainstream rock songs on the album, yet feels really coherent in the context of the album. Another re-recorded track, "Can't Let Go", soon follows with dark guitar riffs and huge choruses. "The Price We Pay" is the only acoustic track on the album and succeeds in showing another dimension of the band, with tinkling piano and a cello playing in the background, it comes across as one of the more emotional songs and is executed beautifully. The album ends in a double-whammy of hard rock with groove-driven "Jump Back" and rock epic "Executioners Day". Heaven's Basement's influences come across very distinctively on this record. Yet whether it be Led Zeppelin, AC/DC or Pink Floyd, it comes across fresh and new, with a raw energy most bands just don't have.
Lyrics — 9
Aaron Buchanan's range as a singer is fantastic on this record. One minute he's baring his soul to us, the next minute he's strutting up and down "Filthy Empire", with all the attitude of Mick Jagger, proclaiming "I ain't Jumpin' Jack Flash / I'm no Telegram Sam / I ain't Ziggy Stardust / I'm just a heartbreaking son of a b*tch!". He's got everything you'd want from a great rock singer. It has to be said, if Heaven's Basement's old singer did the songs on "Filthy Empire", the album would probably have come across as more of a rock tribute album, no offence to Richie intended, but Aaron really nails the rebellious rock frontman vibe while making it his own flavour. His melodies are very catchy and you'll get songs like "Fire, Fire" stuck in your head whether you like it or not. I'd also like to mention that Sid's backing vocals on this record back up Aaron to great effect, and when Sid takes lead on the verses to "Nothing Left To Lose" he proves to be just as good as Aaron. Lyrically the album is not difficult to relate to, with themes of love, loss, being in a band, moving on, growing up and the likes, but that's not to say the lyrics are mediocre. There are some great lyrical moments, my personal favourites being; "Paint black, sunset, left marks on this town so you won't forget / gypsy vagabond, baby you're coming down but I haven't yet" from "Lights Out In London", "waiting for the day/ blue eyes change their shade / walking in step just to buy back the life that I sold / stuck in the middle I don't know which way I should go" from Executioners Day, and "holding down this thing ain't easy at the best of times / time is just like string 'cause when it's here it's passing by" from "The Price We Pay".
Overall Impression — 9
Heaven's Basement have set the bar with "Filthy Empire" by creating a dirty, raw rock record, brimming with red hot attitude that stands out a mile from other modern bands who don't even come close to matching Heaven's Basement's energy. And as a debut album, it really sums up everything this band stand for perfectly. Their influences are evident throughout the album yet it never feels like a rip-off or a tribute, but a young band with passion for music putting their slant on things. There are no weak tracks on this album but highlights include "Fire, Fire", "Nothing Left To Lose", "Lights Out In London", "Heartbreaking Son Of A B*tch", "Jump Back" and "Executioners Day". If you're a fan of Guns N' Roses, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, rock music generally, or you're just looking for a band with an element of danger to their music then this is the band for you. It has been years since I've heard an album with such well crafted rock songs matched with an intense energy that enhances the whole listening experience. In an age of squeaky-clean, tame rock albums, "Filthy Empire" is a much needed breath of fresh air to an often stale genre. Heaven's Basement are the new hope for rock n roll, and may their "Filthy Empire" reign.