Album review: Flamebearer – Brazen

London stoner crew Flamebearer swoop through fire and fuzz on wonderfully old-school debut…

Album review: Flamebearer – Brazen
Sam Law

Argue not, Britain is the spiritual home of stoner rock. London heroes Hawkwind and Birmingham’s Black Sabbath basically invented the genre at the dawn of the 1970s, while ’90s stalwarts Electric Wizard, Cathedral and Orange Goblin helped shape it into the smoky standard we know today. Since then, though, the whiff of sweet leaf has been faint in the UK underground, with one-off psychedelic successes like Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats and Purson unable to inspire substantial new scenes.

Thankfully, the tide looks to be turning. With the monster breakout success of Green Lung, and new outfits as intriguing as Lowen and Goblinsmoker, fresh heroes are rising from the haze. If stomping debut Brazen is anything to go by, Flamebearer will claim a prominent place in that swelling pack.

Operating on an independent budget, there isn’t much luxuriant resin-polish on Seed Is Sown, Taste Hell or Walls Crumbling, but there’s an electric energy and bare-bones worship of the riff that’s hard not to love. Plus, there’s the potential to scale these songs up as much as destiny dictates. The Grey’s spiralling solo, for instance, could rock suffocating sweatboxes up and down the country as easily as it could billow out over the hallowed turf at Donington. Epic ballad Holy Rose clearly yearns for the grandest stages. Black Tower delivers doomy atmospherics and chunky guitars that go down as easy as a cheap, sweet Riesling.

Compellingly, Brazen isn’t an album that overstays its welcome. While so many can’t help but get lost in waves of trippy indulgence, the nine-title tracklist here delivers a lung-busting hit without fucking around. Penultimate nugget See The Lies Away teases subtlety, combining ’70s swagger with heart-tugging poignancy. Then Kiss The Veil cranks everything to 11 for a momentous tumble into the abyss. Fear not, though. Flamebearer’s fire is just beginning to spread.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: Kyuss, Monster Magnet, Green Lung

Brazen is out now

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