There would be those who would call this retro 60's-70's hard rock. While that would be a decent indicator of the approximate neighborhood of the sound, I think it would be sadly lacking in what is actually present here. Yes, it's a basic power trio set up, relatively raw and primitive (no studio trickery or slick big budget sound here!) sound wise, but the energy, focus, talent and vibe are so solid and real that any feeling of a "retro" look back is eradicated immediately. Opener "Lost In the Desert" brings the riffs, the grooves and the rock right from the start and also introduces the ever prevalent "jam" content. Not by any means your everyday jam though. There is no feeling of lack of direction or overindulgence, just the solid documentation of a band on a mission, possessed by the spirit of rock. When this band "jams" you would be hard pressed to find a better example of how that should be done.
There seems to have been a plethora of lemming like (no inside joke pun intended) bands armed with bongs and vintage amps searching for stoner rock or desert rock nirvana and finding little in the way of rock with substance. Those bands could do a lot worse than to spend some time studying track 2 "The Burning" and especially track 3 "The Mission",; notice the lack of pretension? notice the groove flows naturally? notice the timeless feeling of it all? Now realize that you either have it or you don't, this is not something that can be aimed at and Shovelhead have it in spades. I doubt these guys gave a second's thought to what genre they might fit in with or which trend to follow, they just followed the spirit of rock's command to rock out!
Guitarist/vocalist Jim LaPointe might at first appear to be the star of the show with his spot on and inventive work, but notice the seamless interplay between the instruments, the consistent fullness (no mean feat as a three piece) and the natural flow of the dynamics, this was a three piece meant to play together. Drummer Mike Scott and bassist Sha Zaidi are integral elements of this sound and very talented in that "I have real talent so I don't need to show off" kind of way. Personal favorite tracks include the previously mentioned "The Mission", "Ghost in Time" and "The Calling", though there is nothing even close to a dud track here. Metal only folks would want to steer clear as there is not a bit of that present, but those open to or into really quality heavy rock need to get into these guys (if you haven't already, I've a feeling I'm catching the boat late here). If this band had been around in the 60's and 70's they would be legendary, they're that good.....
By Michael Ballue
March 20, 2007