Album Review: Those Damn Crows – Point of No Return

Album Review: Those Damn Crows - Point of No Return
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

Grouped in with the ‘new wave of classic rock’, Bridgend quintet Those Damn Crows are not shy of hard work. Since they formed in 2014, the band have gigged wherever and whenever possible to promote their hard rock and their early live shows were dripping with promise. Debut album Murder and the Motive released in October 2018 pushed their star higher into orbit and their sophomore release Point of No Return suggests that the rocket propelled ascent has no shortage of fuel to continue the journey.

Point of No Return is crammed with 13 tracks of highly polished hard rock. Numerous ear worms’ dwell within the album, catchy hooks and riffs galore come at you one after the other and there is little here to disappoint. Whilst the songs may be bouncy and vibrant, the content certainly takes a darker direction; Those Damn Crows are unafraid to take on some challenging subject matter.

Album opener 'Who Did It' considers the suicide epidemic that broke out in Bridgend and the surrounding valley in recent years and how the media responded to these tragic events. For anyone who lives within a fifty-mile radius of the small Welsh town, this is a song that rings home and hits the heart. We all knew someone who had been affected in one way or another. The band follow this with 'Set In Stone' which considers trauma, how the past dictates the approach to the future while 'Sin On Skin' looks at depression and self-harm. Frontman Shane Greenhall commented, “In order to grow as individuals and as a band, certain mindsets, relationships, and scenarios had to end. These conscious choices led us to make our most honest, emotional, and creative music yet. There was no going back. We had to move forward, smash the glass ceiling to evolve, whilst ensuring we kept the Crows DNA intact. The album and its title, Point Of No Return, are the direct result of making those decisions.”

Elsewhere, the band show their softer side with the ballad 'Never Win', Greehall’s delivery and emotional piano eerily providing shades of one Ugly Reg (Elton John to you madam). Some of the material contains subject matter that the band found difficult. Greenhall said, “There are songs on this record that are brutally honest and are of a subject matter that are very difficult to open up and talk about.”

For all the darkness, it’s when the band reach for the soaring anthems such as 'Send The Reaper', 'King of Second Chances' and the riff heavy 'Go Get It' (impossible to ignore the early Black Stone Cherry/Alter Bridge style) that they really hit their stride. Greenhall’s vocals are impressive throughout, but it’s when he’s allowed to open the pipes that he stands on his own. The duel guitar work of Ian ‘Shiner’ Thomas and David Winchurch is solid throughout, with some tasty lead work. It’s fist pumping beer in the hand classic rock which the band have polished to a high standard, driven hard by the stable engine room of Lloyd Wood (bass) and drummer Ronnie Huxford.

Recorded with legendary producers Colin Richardson (Bullet For My Valentine, Machine Head, Fear Factory, Sepultura) and Andy Sneap (Judas Priest, Trivium, Killswitch Engage, Opeth, Megadeth) it’s fair to say that Point of No Return captures the band’s live energy to the full. There is no going back for the Crows. A sold out UK tour is imminent and even if the Planet Rock friendly format isn’t your bag, their live shows are always excellent value. This is indeed the point of no return and as a fellow Welshman, I feel proud of their progress.

'Point of No Return' is released on February 7th on Earache Records.

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