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Radkey - Dark Black Makeup (Album Review)

Wednesday, 19 August 2015 Written by Alec Chillingworth

The brothers Solomon, Isaiah and Dee Radke are ready. They've been brown-nosed to the point of never needing a prostate examination again, but their debut album is finally here and the fickle hype machine must be held to account.

Musically, 'Dark Black Makeup' is a far more diverse beast than the EPs that preceded it. There was only so much of their Misfits/Bad Brains worship Radkey could peddle and their debut LP sees that feral, hardcore edge subdued in exchange for a bluesy tinge. And what a wonderful addition that is.

Love Spills pours through the speakers with some gorgeous, Queens Of The Stone Age-style vocal harmonies and Best Friends launches into a laid-back, almost stoner rock jam session. While we’re at it, it’d be foolish to leave out the fuzz-laden, mid-tempo guitar solo centrepiece, Hunger Pain.

They pull influences from all over the shop, with Solomon's punchy drums and Dee's muted riffing on Evil Doer giving Foo Fighters a run for their money, but never aping them.

Dee's baritone has been compared to Glenn Danzig's, and the similarity isn't gone entirely, but coupling that deep, dark cavern of a croon with what is essentially radio rock backing adds an extra dollop of uncertainty to proceedings.

The spasmodic thrash of Glore has Radkey one-upping everything they've recorded so far, with Scars On Broadway vocal patterns and an insatiable bassline from Isaiah providing the backdrop for a solo that could be a lick from Iron Maiden's Dream Of Mirrors.

The pre-chorus to Le Song is, we hope, an homage to Misfits' Vampira, accompanying an attempt at pop-punk. Again, it's the blending of various styles with frantic, undeniably tight delivery that makes 'Dark Black Makeup' more than just youngsters being humoured.

Unfortunately, Radkey stuff a little too much into the bargain towards the end. It's 2015, meaning Sank's spliff-toking lyrics are duller than a vegan's stool sample and Feel lacks the punch of all that came before it, leaving the record's climax feeling a little limp.

Still, Radkey are champions. This record isn't perfect, but it's their debut. It sags in places and sometimes you wish they'd stop flitting so erratically between styles, but the core is rooted in punk. Not hardcore punk, but a Ramones inspired commitment to massive melodies, simple rhythm arrangements and riffs that make you want to climb some furniture just to jump off it again. 'Dark Black Makeup' is but the start of Radkey's journey. Where are they heading? We're not sure, but it'll pay to stay and find out.

Radkey Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue September 01 2015 - LONDON Old Blue Last
Mon October 26 2015 - BRIGHTON Green Door Store
Tue October 27 2015 - BRISTOL Exchange, Bristol
Wed October 28 2015 - BIRMINGHAM Hare and Hounds
Thu October 29 2015 - SHEFFIELD Leadmill
Fri October 30 2015 - NOTTINGHAM Bodega Social
Sat October 31 2015 - MANCHESTER Sound Control
Mon November 02 2015 - GLASGOW King Tuts Wah Wah Hut
Tue November 03 2015 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Wed November 04 2015 - LEEDS Key Club
Thu November 05 2015 - LONDON Dome

Click here to compare & buy Radkey Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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