The Judas Belt
Aussie hard rock release overdue decent debut effort
Heifer's heritage dates back to 1998 with brothers Andy (guitars) and Reuben Love (drums) were joined by vocalist Rob Smith, bassist Matt Lyon and guitarist Cliff Newman. Since that time, their recorded output has consisted of two EPs (2000's Mark Mark and 2003's Black Skies Blue) and a single (2001's Go) and after securing a deal with new label Bonza Records, the time has finally rolled around for them to release their debut effort, The Judas Belt. It's a well packaged CD+DVD set containing ten hard rock numbers with a faint metal tinge throughout and band interviews and video clips on the DVD.
What is basically the title track, Waiting For The Judas Belt, opens the album with a blend of rock/stoner rock with traces of metal influences. The result is a catchy enough song but ultimately nothing outstanding overall with the biggest problem early on not being Smith's Josh Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age) sounding vocals but the fact that they completely dominate the mix. In contrast, Drowning In Lies is a much stronger track showcasing a good mix of melody and some intricate riffage along with a heavier vibe towards the end adds some weight to the track. Sit On The Fence is clearly the highlight of the album with its excellent chorus and some very witty lyrical barbs aimed at our politicians. The album continues in fine fashion via the some Tool sounding (think Undertow/AEnima era) Take It All and the excellent upbeat rocker Slippin' Away.
I Just Wanna Kill You, the album's first promotional single/video is catchy at times, but doesn't really grab your attention as it should being a single. There are enough changes within Animosity to keep it more than interesting compared to the varied but not quite as memorable One-Lane Brain. Thankfully the album finishes on a high with the solid Burning Time which isn't short on some decent hooks and the stop/start character of Sick Of Your Shit which is sure to be a good number for crowd chants.
The DVD component of this combined CD/DVD package contains the performance clips for Waiting For The Judas Belt and I Just Wanna Kill You, as well as the Reservoir Dogs inspired Slippin' Away with all clips being available in full screen and wide screen versions. The DVD is rounded out with three band interviews and a photo gallery all of which give a somewhat of an insight into the Heifer.
There's a fair bit of diversity on Heifer's The Judas Belt and the truth is that whilst most of it works, there still some room for improvement. But as overdue as their debut long player is, with Heifer delivering as well as they have with The Judas Belt, all can be forgiven when it's as enjoyable as this.
(Bonza Records/MGM Distribution)