One of the most important things that any aspiring musician needs to learn about rock’n’roll is that, despite a few anomalous exceptions to the rule, it really isn’t brain surgery. Get the basics right, remembering to add a tiny dash of spice to those delicious, nourishing meat and potatoes every now and then, and there is surprisingly little that anyone with a degree of competence can fuck up.
This is a lesson that Black Spiders clearly learned at the very start, and it’s a testament to their mastery of the form that the Sheffield quintet have accrued a remarkable number of critical plaudits over their two-and-a-bit years of active service. Ultimately, you’re either the real classic rock deal or you’re not, and Black Spiders have ticked the ‘Yes’ box with a big, fat marker pen.
After a few low-key releases and a huge number of live performances, Sons Of The North marks the point where this band step out from the cosy wing of the pre-cajoled media and live or die by their own creative efforts. Pleasingly, from the clattering bravado of the opening Stay Down and the cheeky KISS Tried To Kill Me onwards, their fiery commitment to slamming the best bits of AC/DC, Motörhead, (early) Aerosmith and Black Sabbath together in one huge, thunderous slab of old school rowdiness bears high-quality fruit.
The big hooks of Just Like A Woman, St Peter, and Si, El Diablo could easily sound like warmed-up clichés in less skilful hands, but the Spiders attack everything with passion and it’s hard to imagine hearing any of this at a live show without wanting to headbang, drink heavily and leer lasciviously at members of the opposite (or indeed same) sex.
Peter ‘Spider’ Spiby is not a vocalist prone to histrionics or needless showboating, but his commanding performance provides the glue that holds the whole album together, and gives it just about enough character of its own. And, of course, there are plenty of enormous riffs here – most notably on clear highlight Blood Of The Kings, which is simply a great old-school heavy metal song imbued with vast, pendulous elephant testicles.
Of course, if you haven’t heard it all a million times before you clearly need to get out more and buy this magazine more often, but in terms of straight-ahead rock’n’roll entertainment, Sons Of The North is destined to become one of 2011’s must-haves.