In these days of MP3, my CD player is almost obsolete, but I wanna’ get a proper listening-to-an-album feel for this review so I dust off the old Cambridge Audio and remove the disc from its case. The album artwork is very captivating, sinister in some ways, it puts me in mind of a Sabbath album for some reason? I drop the disc into the tray and slide it shut (an action I have not performed in many years!). I light my joint and I sit back and embark upon a musical journey with Culann as my guide…

…The opening track ‘Jerusalem’ hits in hard like a good shot of Columbian (and I don’t mean coffee this is much stronger than that!) it jerks you instantly awake! The drums are pounding insistently with the bass and it doesn’t take long before the heavyweight guitar comes swinging in to the fight, you know instantly this is a great song, it’s my favourite on the album, it’s one of those, you just know the second your hear the opening chords that something good this way comes. This song is so powerful and forward that it could easily be used for a boxer’s entrance music to the ring, it fits into that special category. And all this even before PJ’s amazing voice comes soaring in off the top rope with an elbow drop! If a wrestler can bench-press five hundred pounds, then PJ’s voice can bench-press five hundred decibels! Nice key change for the anthemic chorus which bites back into the hook with excellent timing, these guys are masters of song structure. It reminds me a little of The Living End, showing that Culann’s influences, whatever they are, are definitely diverse. Breaking down into a nice rolling drumbeat that cues perfectly for a kick-ass guitar solo, and, ah, there it is, but what’s this? A keyboard solo as well! I’m being spoiled! This song just keeps getting better and better and that keyboard has a wonderfully scatty psychedelic feel to it! Then back into the mellow part for one last round of that grinding guitar riff that you don’t want to end, but then it does, but we’ve got a long way to go yet…

‘Homegrown’ is a nicely, meandering ditty, where PJ gets to show off his vocal talents and the keyboard carries it along happily, there’s still some undertones of that heavy edge here, Culann never seem to lose that and their alternative edge is great, it’s what gives them attitude. The song’s speeding up now, the trip is increasing in intensity! The drums are permeated with the sound of Culann’s roots, so the song is aptly named as there is a definite home-grown Scottish sound in it.

‘Beat Your Chest’ is one I remember fondly from the live show, it is one of their most popular tunes, a crowd-pleaser, and it’s easy to hear why. It could easily be a hit song, it’s got it all, from an epic piano riff backed up by that slicing guitar and of course complimented eventually with that coercive and compelling voice. This song could almost be prog-rock, again illuminating the band’s eclecticism. This is a really positive uplifting song and I’ve just noticed whenever I say something about the song it is reflected in the song title, so I guess their songs do exactly as they say on the tin and it shows that Culann know exactly what they are doing and what they want, you can beat your chest to this anthem, and anthem is a word that keeps springing up because their works are rife with them, and when you’ve got an anthem you’ve got a hit! I love bands that keep your attention by having constant key-changes and bridges in their music and these guys are no exception, making them very appealing, across the board, because they have a good mix of old and new in their style, I think anybody would like this album from the youngest of listeners to the oldest, Culann have a very wide appeal.

‘Boomerang’ is a slower number, but Culann can’t seem to keep still, they always get faster at some point and this is a good thing, it shows they’re enjoying themselves, they can’t help but getting up to a more punkier speed, not letting you get distracted, their music will command your attention. You could imagine this type of music rocking out a stadium and I believe one day it will, Culann have gold in their veins…

‘The Lowlander’s Great Hatred’ is a brilliant name for a song that is equally brilliant, especially when it gets going and get going it certainly does, not lacking that wall-of-sound attack that Culann have, evident in all their songs, never failing to satisfy the listener who has more heavy-sounding tastes, but anybody from a punk to a teeny-bopper could appreciate this music because of that multifariousness, and it is that which keeps the sound very much alive in your ears, this isn’t background music, this is attention-grabbing music that’ll give you a bloody good shake, cos’ you need a shake if you’re not listening to this, it’s some of the greatest stuff on the scene today, it’s only a matter of time before it’s recognised and winning a SAMA award has only proven what I’ve been saying about Culann since I first heard them for the first time live at their album launch in King Tut’s – Culann are going places!

Another crowd-pleasing fan-favourite now as ‘Salvation’ drifts from the speakers, with that distinctive, speeding-up, speeding-up Culann sound that lets you know this song isn’t static, it’s going somewhere, so listen up. The keyboardist is a master of his instrument, he carries the songs along like a set of drums i.e. providing backbone and structure. Some haunting vocals carry the song into a wonderful crescendo, that then releases like a wave crashing to finish and roll nicely into the next one…

…’Grafter’ sounds like a million genres at once, I can hear prog, metal, punk, folk, rock all vying for attention, but not in a shambolic way, it all mixes together into an awesome hurricane of sound and then mellows out into a nice bit of skilled acoustic guitar-playing followed up with an insane keyboard solo that takes the song off in another direction again, this is what I mean about Culann being very attention-grabbing, they never get boring, you could listen to this album on repeat and still be pleasantly surprised by it every time.

‘I Am The Red’ is instantly classic, with growling guitar and soaring vocals, PJ’s voice soars like the Scottish highlands and that is kind of the imagery it paints. This song climbs and climbs over valleys, peaks and pinnacles and again it’s like a promiscuous panmixia of genres, keeping it fresh and lively! And I’ve become a bit addicted to the keyboard of Culann and I get my fix here right at the end, satisfaction!

‘Brain Canyon’ has a strange and unique feel to it, it’s a fitting song to round off the record because it has a rising sound, crescendo-ing the entire album into a beautiful symphony, this record is like the influence of psychedelics, taking you through powerful peaks and pleasant plateaus and as we start to come down the other side we’re left with a profound and palpable feeling of having been touched by something special, this is of course what makes good music, the feeling of being personally effected by the sound. This song is heroic, taking us through seven minutes of amazing cacophonies that sharpen themselves upon your senses, the music is actually rushing through me like ecstasy, it’s the kind of album you want to be lying on a floor in a dark room listening to on headphones, just blissfully lost in its incredible sound, the guitarist leads the song out with a beautifully ear-splitting solo that is complimenting the whole album’s feel in one word – epic, in the true sense, not in the loosely applied sense so often used these days.

‘Friendship and Honour’ mixes nicely into the previous song solidifying the track-listing into a concept album, PJ is singing us out in his masterful tones and before the song has even ended I just wanna’ take the (metaphorical) needle back to the first groove…and so I do, see you in another fifty-two glorious minutes!!!

                                                                                                               Seeya’ in the pit!!! ~ C.T Herron.

* FIRST PUBLISHED ON NHC MUSIC 04/04/2013
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