English soul-rockers The Heavy are all about moving through the past, darkly. Their sound is a Bitch’s Brew of hip hop breakbeats, ’60s R&B, funky horns, Sticky Fingers riffs, and zombie movie sound bytes. But for their third album, they moved to Columbus, GA where they picked up more than just a few church pamphlets. They picked up a whole gospel choir.
The Heavy's third studio album, 2012's The Glorious Dead is a bombastic acid rock, funk, and blues-soaked album that sounds like the illegitimate offspring of the Black Keys and Gnarls Barkley. In that sense, it builds nicely upon the Heavy's previous work and should please fans of the band's quirky take on rootsy soul-influenced music. Showcasing singer Kelvin Swaby's trademark rough, nasally yawp, the Heavy seem to love building songs around riffs of low-end electric guitar twang, booming basslines, and wickedly boneheaded, backwoods drumbeats.
There's a resurgence of bands that "play off the vibe." While most critics were busy comparing the Black Keys' grooves to the White Stripes' riff-heavy rock, it was actual artists like Charles Bradley, Lee Fields and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Tones that complemented the Keys' unique, guttural energy. On their third LP, Bath, England's the Heavy have ostensibly solidified that sound, delivering ten rock and soul-infused tracks that lay low on the concept and ride high on the performance. Standouts like "Can't Play Dead" and "What Makes a Good Man" play off of proverbial rock statutes, like call-and-response vocals and pendulum-swinging rhythms.
The Heavy’s capacity for rabble-rousing is a potent strength. Paul Clarke 2012 Few British bands since Give Out But Don’t Give Up-era Primal Scream have imitated Southern US rock as slavishly as The Heavy – and even the Glaswegians slapping a Confederate flag on the cover couldn’t sell Lynyrd Skynyrd riffs and Stax horns back to the land they borrowed them from. But these boys from Bath have seen their How You Like Me Now? single, from 2009’s The House That Dirt Built album go gold stateside and appear on TV shows like Entourage.