For a band that considers Tom Waits and Nick Cave as primary inspirations, you can pretty much tell from the off that Clang Boom Steam’s debut album isn’t going to be a barrel of laughs. Song titles such as Worms and Diggin’ Up The Dead don’t do a lot to alter that preconception either.
Lyrically it very much feels like the album charts tales of highwaymen, predatory night time stalkers and grave-robbers. Although it is a little hard to tell since the vocals are bathed in so much fuzz and atmosphere the band could be just as likely to be singing about rainbows and butterflies and you wouldn’t know the difference.
Musically it’s easy to cite Queens of the Stone Age as a reference point but they sound just as much like a not so heavy Rammstein or Marilyn Manson. There are some interesting musical ideas on show but it all seems a little, well, safe.
With the character of the songs being very much up the Waits/Cave alley, you want to feel the villainy and the unpredictability of those dark and mysterious characters, but with Clang Boom Steam it feels like what you get is a watered down version of this.
With songs like Dirty Face, it’s all been done before. It’s not bad in the slightest, just un-engaging. The kind of storm that rollicks past without you even noticing. The only stand out track is You Don’t Love Me which sounds like Dirty Pretty Things crossed with Dommin albeit slightly less heavy.
With ten songs in just over 33 minutes, it’s all very brief and to the point, but 33 minutes is all it takes to realise that more development is needed.
For anyone who, like me, were enticed to this band by the prospect of Tom Waits style ramblings, you would do better to check out Glen Hansard or Sean Rowe. For those drawn by the fuzz-guitar wizardry akin to Queens of the Stone Age, there is something to enjoy, but nobody does it better than Josh Homme at the moment. A disappointingly unremarkable debut.