In early 2014 I wasn’t really into guitar bands that much. I was more into Ninja Tune, Warp, or jazzy things. A friend told me about this band from the North East who had just released their debut single. I expect to be underwhelmed. But I wasn’t. I really wasn’t. It was exactly what I wanted, but didn’t realise I needed. The band in question was Avalanche Party and the track was ‘Obstacle’. It was the sound of Mclusky re-interrupting Gregorian chants for the Nuggets crowd.
Now five years, and a dozen songs later, Avalanche Party have unveil their debut album ‘24 Carat Diamond Trephine’. While the songs sound cleaner than those initial singles, the same intensity is still there.
The band once claimed that “nobody comes from where we come from”. And after listening to ‘24 Carat Diamond Trephine’ that might be very true. Channelling their inner Nick Cave opener ‘El Dorado’ kicks the album off, but instead of visceral guitars, we are welcomed by sombre piano and haunting harmonica. This isn’t what we’d be lead to believe would happen on Avalanche Party’s debut album. It sounds like something from Red Dead Redemption, rather than the opening tracks on an indie band’s debut album.
And this is what they’ve always done so well. Just when you think you know what to expect they deliver something opposite. As ‘El Dorado’ continues you expect a wall of guitars to explode at any moment but, spoilers, they don’t. And what more, you don’t miss them, as Avalanche Party deliver something so captivating.
Next up ‘Bugzy’ and ‘7’ deliver, in quick succession, what you came here for. Visceral rock that has more in common with 80s Matchbox than the current crop of ‘hype’ bands. ‘Howl’ slows things down a bit but doesn’t lose any of its appeal with simmering drumming and euphoric choruses.
Then Avalanche Party throws a curve ball. ‘HaHa’ features with a post-dubstep bassline which the unrelenting guitars and breakbeats intertwine around. Yes ‘HaHa’ is catchy but it also doesn’t quite land as well as everything else on the album. On the surface you have to commend the band for trying something different by including their influences, but overall it feels a bit flat.
And this is another reason why ‘24 Carat Diamond Trephine’ is a far more interesting album than their peers have released. It shows that they aren’t just into the texture of guitars and drums, but stark electronics and want to see how it pans out if they combine them. This is followed by the dusty country sun-soaked ballad ‘Hey Misdemeanour’. Back to back they feel jarring, but are probably the truest reflection to Avalanche Party’s sound and musical world view.
The two most important things to know about Avalanche Party are they write life affirming songs that give you faith guitar music. What’s more they’re hungry and have ideas. ‘24 Carat Diamond Trephine’ is chocked full of both of these. It’s an album that was worth the five year wait as it finally delivers on Avalanche Party’s initial unruly promise of writing a heartfelt vitriolic lament while trying to cave our heads in through viscous indie rock, whilst doubling down on killer melodies.
Lyrically the album has a speaker’s corner feel to it. Jordan Bell is preaching, but he’s probably doing it after a few pints. He conjurors up feelings of repentance and pulpits, but with a snide smile. The songs are chocked full of emotion and pathos to make even the hardest of us feel grateful for what we’ve got.
Words: Nick Roseblade
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