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CKY - 'The Phoenix' Album Review


1. Replaceable

2. Days Of Self Destruction

3. Unknown Enemy

4. Head For A Breakdown

5. The Other Ones

6. Wiping Off The Dead

7. Lies From You

8. Better Than Get Even

It is has been over eight years since we had our grubby little hands on some CKY Skate-Metal and, well, I can confirm their new material is pretty riff-tastic. Well, its CKY after all. And while it is relatively safe to say that the ‘camp kill yourself’ boys have delivered another thick slap of pre-social media come MTV2-core, one feels it is necessary to state this album is missing something, or someone.

It might not be a surprise to the ‘CKY Alliance’-ers, but distant observers will be interested to know that founding member Derron Miller is no longer in the band. Do not despair however, musically speaking, you don’t notice. Interestingly, I didn't notice it on the first listen. Chad I Gainsburg, who is now taking lead vocal duty, is somewhat of a musical polymath. Indeed the man has produced much of CKY’s work and has been a member of the group from the very beginning. Now, it seems he has been given the front door keys, and while it is always good to remember that sometimes the guitarist turned lead vocalist works (Graham Coxon, Richard Hawley) it often doesn't (Scars on Broadway, Steve Hewitt). When Gainsburg growls ‘I have only hate, love to see you suffer’ and ‘I’m obviously doing great’ of the opener ’Replaceable’; its hard not to think that this is directed at the former employee. However one does not feel it is fair to make such an assumption as the music certainly doesn't expel specific hatred, indeed it ploughs through like an industrial washing machine trying very hard to ape AC-DC. Its catchy, but in a disco in Mordor kinda way, the White Zombie rhythms, the ‘twenty cigarettes a day’ infused vocals take me back to Metal/Hard clubs of the early 00's filled with teenagers wearing denim jackets and bopping to 90s Alt-Rock soundtracks. ‘Days of Self-Destruction’ wouldn't sound out of place off their second album, 'Infiltrate•Destroy•Rebuild'. Rhythmically, the track will take listeners right back to their earlier material but it is with the inclusion of Mastodon’s Brent Hinds that will undoubtedly win over younger fans of Heavy Metal to the CKY camp. Whilst Hinds guitar work isn't recognisable upon first listen, one can see why the band would want him to feature, perhaps to ‘Blues’ it up.

‘Unknown Enemy’ takes us on an unusual trek and it is a song that takes us down a, dare I say it, Country and Western route? I would say its brave to place such song in the third position, perhaps, this is the bands attempt to distance themselves further away from the Skate-Sludge past. Next up is ‘Head for A Breakdown’ and it is the perfect Alice In Chains come Queens Of The Stone Age Pop-Rocker. Like, ‘Unknown Enemy’, there is the sense of maturity, regret and honesty running through the song. ‘I know the feeling when I get too high, then I get too high and I head for a breakdown’ Mr Gainsburg croons, one has to ask whether this is a sign of the Jackass generation embracing the concept of getting old? We may never know.

‘Wiping Off the Dead’ takes us right back to where it all started however, musically speaking, its somewhat akin to the second song on the album or, perhaps, something of the first three albums. The track’s full effect is somewhat subdued, or at least a little tame in contrast to the self-reflective nature of the last two. This is no fault of the band, or the track for that matter. I blame the songs position on the record. However its the bands closer ‘Better Than Get Even’ that makes for interesting discussion. It grabs and pulls us down a weird ‘Black Sabbath in Wonderland’ Stoner-Doom tunnel. And given the resurgence of Psychedelic-Rock, at least in my part of the world, this may actually be a good career move for the band. Indeed if one was to go out all out Wolfmother, this would be a good launch site.

In short The Phoenix is a great record with some good ideas. A notable band to compare them to would be Maryland groove rockers Clutch, in that, they are band who had flirted a little bit with the hyper-masculinity of mid 90's Metal but in time they gradually gravitated towards the cooler and edgier Blues side of things. I look forward to the new CKY, minus Miller, and I feel that all that remains to say is a big welcome to new bass player Matt Deis.

Review - Lewis McWilliam

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