The AMG promo sump is stuffed to the rafters with glowing PR spin about how this band redefines genre X and that band takes sub-genre Y into realms hitherto unheard. Most of it is utter crap and as accurate as your average public access channel psychic reading. Not so with the debut full-length by U.K.’s Gorilla however, who describe their sound as “F*ck the safety net heavy rock n’ roll.” Truer PR words have rarely been spoken, as this under-the-radar power trio blasts a feedback-drenched, 70s fuzz n’ noise assault that sounds a whole lot like the bastard offspring of Mötörhead, Kyuss and Blue Cheer. Treecreeper clubs you with heavy, rowdy, and raw music, high on volume and attitude and low on refinement and social graces. It comes across like a live recording from some back alley dive bar deep in Donkey Kong Country where you’re almost certain to get banana poisoning and a black eye. Now that we have the general lay of the land, let’s get down to the serious monkey business.
The band wastes no time getting the party started with the hurly-burly, mega-raucous attack of “Scum of the Earth,” which is an album high point and a terrific example of what the band is all about. The music is heavily reminiscent of Kyuss anthems like “Green Machine,” with that same fuzzed out riff attack and fat, throbbing low-end. The vocals by Johnny Gorilla (no relation) sound like a young Lemmy after a particularly brutal bender. His hoarse snarl adds plenty of greasy charm to the dirty noise the band generates, and his guitar-work packs a ton of silverback swagga. The band goes for a moodier, trippier approach on “Cyclops” and it works quite well, bringing in elements of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats for an intriguing number. A heavy Mötörhead influence takes hold during the loose, bluesy and loud “Gorilla Time Rock n Roll,” replete with cowbell and harmonica solos. It’s far from slick or nuanced, but the sloppy, jammy presentation conveys an infectiously fun vibe. Rampant Clutch-isms appear on the laid back but wicked groove of the title track, and the old timey 70s blues rock leads are great fun. This cut oozes a nostalgic kind of hippie coolness and the lyrics are somehow both dumb and oddly wise. I find this song percolating in my head at all hours of the day lately.
Despite the strong start, Gorilla struggle at times to keep up the quality level as Treecreeper progresses, and a few tunes on the back-half feel incomplete and unfinished. “Mad Dog” is mostly a fun, whammy-jammy ride, but it feels overlong at 7-plus minutes, and “Ringo Dingo” sounds like something from The Jim Carroll Band, very unpolished, rough as all hell and almost demo-quality. It also sounds like someone else does the vocals. The funky guitar-work saves the song anyway, which should tell you something about Mr. Gorilla’s abilities and the benefits of guitar-forward fortitude. The production is loud and muddled, soupy and sometimes amateurish, but it suits the raw, live sound the band specializes in.
This is a talented little trio, with Mr. Gorilla’s guitar skills front and center. The man has an ear for a hairy, groovy riff and he can jam with great abandon without losing the listener. His ginormous guitar tone flattens all in its path, making for a punchy, confrontational sound, and his whiskey and Drano scorched vocals are the perfect complement to his bluesy wanking. He’s ably supported by the wicked bass-work of Sarah Jane, who has a huge impact on the band’s sound, creating a thick, imposing low-end rumble upon which everything else rocks and reels chaotically. The trio is rounded out by Ryan Matthews’ turbulent drumming, which feels appropriately angry and in-your-face as it drives the material ever forward.
Treecreeper is chest thumping, back hair fertilizing hard rock for the primitives and it’s more fun than a barrel of drunken monkeys. If you’re in the market for a take no prisoners album of meatheaded bruiser rock, this is your Magilla. Even the occasional blemishes can’t derail the boozy, woozy joy ride, and this thing packs more attitude than most albums you’ll hear this year. Go get your pimpanzee on.