• Band of Skulls Himalayan Electric Blues Recordings The English nipped rock n roll from Americans back in the 1960s, and theyre doing it again, just as effortlessly as before. The spookily named Band of Skulls resurrect the brash jams of Black Sabbath and the White Stripes on Himalayan (Electric Blues Recordings), their third album. Its a throat-grabbing piece of art in a time where most "rock" bands sound like the second coming of New Wave. "Where we are going is anyones guess," shrieks Russell Marsden on the kickin first track, "Asleep at the Wheel." He could be singing of rock music in general, or just the sharp turns that Himalayan takes in its 50-odd minutes. The aural journey is akin to that of scaling a tall mountain: It starts with a burst of energy, then mellows out to a steady pace (the Cult-ish "Nightmares"). Then things get caustic and difficult (the maniacal sludge of "I Guess I Know You Very Well") and defeatist (the Dead Weather mod send-up "I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead & One Dying"). Ultimately, the peak is conquered, with the adventurers caught in a haze of exhaustion and solemn delirium ("Get Yourself Together," a semi-ballad with a case of The Bends). As the stellar swampiness of Himalayan swallows listeners, bassist/vocalist Emma Richardson is the tether. Her delivery shifts from angel of mercy to angel of death in mere measures. But when shes welcoming, as she is on the gothic trudge of "Cold Sweat," shes heaven sent. Her warm alto is reminiscent of that of Chrissie Hynde, the Mother Superior of rock. The latest from Band of Skulls is gargantuan. Itll flatten you with its killer riffs and jagged edges. Himalayan is an album with a mighty bite, while other "rock" records these days are sporting false teeth.

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