Kris Barras Band
Death Valley Paradise
British Blues Rocker Embraces His Unrestrained Darker Anthemic Stompers.
No matter that Death Valley Paradise is a much noisier and heavier weighted soundtrack than I would normally be listening to on an average day, but today this is not one of those days.
From Devon, yet perfectly serving up his own brand of American Blues Rock, Kris Barras has added an extra layer of metal around this, his 4th release.
Knowing that the frontman is an ex MMA/cage fighter was foremost in my mind as the sheer energy unleashed right from the outset knocked me sideways.
This for me conjures up an image of a caged tiger who has been pacing for an eternity and suddenly liberated. It’s a tale of surviving Lockdown frustrations and offloading pent up emotions culminating in this moment, a gigantic invitation for us all to get back out there and simply rock out. I’m in.
It makes perfect sense that this album was inspired by a single song; then broken up into fragments to create the 11 tracks, as this LP deserves to be listened to in the traditional way, from start to finish.
Each song adds a different layer to the web of Kris Barras’s confessional tales of struggles, a procession of individually intense anthems adding a massively darker amplified cloak over his Southern Rock heart.
The opener and first single Dead Horses slaps down this band’s re-invention cards firmly on the table.
It’s taken me just a few listens to fully appreciate what an effective start this is.
The new thundering drums of Billy Hammett launches us into a rush of adrenaline with deeply powerful beefed -up guitar riffs a plenty, vocals defiant and boldly telling the bleakest tale of being imprisoned in a broken relationship.
Right on its tail is Long Gone, picking up the same desperate trail of the doomed relationship. With a raucously pleasing bluesy guitar intro riff marrying perfectly with the trademark fist punching drum beat, I am lost in the drama and as for Kris Barras; there is no holding back the anger inside.
The recent single My Parade effortlessly amplifies the theatrics, the simplicity of the confident, defiantly driven killer chant hook: the drum beat begging to be thrashed out to a large crowd. The message is to choose our battle ground and it’s of little consequence if the forceful lyrics ultimately denies a bit of radio play to a song destined to be a live roof raising smash for years to come.
When we arrive at track #7 there is a half time break in the ring; as it were.
The vulnerable, softer version of the frontman oozes out with Wake Me Up When It’s Over.
This track almost made the top slot for me as it sums up, more than any other, the hell in Death Valley Kris Barras has been livin’ in.
A slower pace but still as striking: heartfelt melancholic vocals, laced with angst but breathtakingly emotional and reeling us in by the time we reach another level of playing with an exceptional and highly charged guitar solo:
“Are you stuck in this nightmare
Alone in darkness
And Climbing the walls
Someone wake me up when it’s over
Get me off this rollercoaster
Cause right now it seems my eyes can’t see a better life”
As it progresses, we are let into many more rounds of dark secrets throughout this album including the anarchic Who Needs Enemies and the more hopeful Devil You Know which examines how to turn this bleak experience into brave choices at the crossroads of life.
My favourite track purely for today has got to be These Voices.
An exquisitely catchy and manically appealing rock anthem, almost retro in feel and sweeter, more mellow vocals that still have the ability to deliver a cruel blow.
It symbolises the whole band as a unit with Kelpie Mackenzie’s thumping bass and Josiah J. Manning layering the rhythms to create a very polished track with the classic rock n roll abrupt full stop ending that leaves us begging for more. It is also poignant and deeply personal, conveying the inner mental struggles that have been overcome to get to this point.
A true fighter emerging victorious.
Timing can sometimes be everything, perhaps what I like most about this album is that it has the ability to whisk us out of our comfort zone and be transported to that live sweaty mosh pit many have been denied for too long.
They are soon to be let loose on a long-awaited UK wide tour, no stopping their advances but the real power of the Kris Barras Band is that they also enable you to close your eyes and be with them in spirit.
Review Courtesy Anita Joyce
Released 4th March 2022
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