The Black Heart Drifters were formed in the summer of 2021 and Band HQ is in Lydney, Gloucestershire but its members live across South East Wales and the West Country. The band plays a heady, eclectic, filthy, brooding mix of Country, Western, Goth Rock, and Rockabilly, with a UK rock edge, singing songs about hard drinking, hard fighting, womanising, gambling, gunslinging troublemakers, trying to have a good time and stay one step ahead of the hangman’s noose.
They began making their mark on the live scene at the turn of the year and haven’t looked back. Some bands were just meant to be live acts and Black Heart Drifters are definitely one of those although that’s not to say their recorded stuff isn’t great – it is but when you hear it live you’ll get a totally different view of what they’re about.
The Black Heart Drifters are undoubtedly the best undiscovered, unsigned band that I have heard in the past decade. This, their debut album, is the product of fine musicianship, great song-writing, great ideas and superb production. It is all the more remarkable to learn that this is a DIY effort.
Buff Harris former bass slapper with Deadbeat Deluxe tells me that the band has been together for just a year, ‘although Mark joined recently’. Buff met James and Iain through work Iain and Buff are both ex-Army so ‘knew each other of old’. The band hasn’t played a single gig but that will be ‘rectified in the New Year’. The music and lyrics have both been group efforts! Buff continues, ‘Individuals bring an idea and we morph that into the finished article together.’ All of the writing, recording, mixing and mastering was done in house. ‘James coveted his double garage into a pro level studio.’ It really is a sterling achievement.
In terms of the musicians’ pedigree, Mark the drummer’s previous bands include Panel, and Death of an Icon, his Influences include ‘pretty much 80s and 90s rock. Iain, who plays guitar was previously in: Full Moon Freaks 1987 Scottish Psychobilly), plenty of solo work since. Iain loves his METAL! James Guitar and Vocals’ previous bands include: The Cruisers (Neo Rockabilly), Switchblade (Industrial Rock). He cites his influences as: Rockabilly, Country, and Industrial. Buff, who plays Double Bass and Electric Bass has previously played for: In The Shit (Hardcore Punk), Deadbeat Deluxe (Punkabilly). Buff cites his influences as: 80s Metal, Goth Rock (The Cult & Sisters of Mercy), and Psychobilly
Whilst this is not a psychobilly album it ought to appeal to fans of that genre as well as many beyond, if you imagine the Legendary Raw Deal mixed with Chris Isaak, inter-bred with Phantasmagoria era The Damned you are part way there. The album is currently only available for streaming via the usual platforms.
The album kicks off with the supremely impressive Santa Fe, which begins with a wonderfully simple, yet really effective riff on the slide guitar before the bass drum kicks in then a chuffing guitar joins the fray making a tremendously effective soundscape to which you can also add very deft use of the Hammond organ. The vocals are quite superb. The guitar work is excellent at one point the guitar harmonises like a heavy metal band, but it works. This is a band that is happy to do whatever works for the song and they are to be commended for this.
Marie Celeste is another great songs featuring very effective female backing vocals, the lead vocals sound rather goth, with echoes of Dave Vanian c. Eloise era a very good thing in my book, The drumming on this track is also very good, if the drummer is not using a double pedal then he is very competent indeed.
Cruel Summer begins with rather ethereal female vocals that are rather reminiscent of the sadly departed Delores O’Riordan. James lends his vocal to the chorus, there’s a very nice bluesy guitar solo in this, but then it’s over before its begun – this must be the sign of a good song.
Outlaw Sons is another good song in which singer James borrows a line from the much missed Lemmy Kilmister, when he sings ‘I don’t want to live forever and the band briefly plays the accompanying riff, it is deftly worked into the song and to the uninitiated ear it would seem to be a natural part of Outlaw Sons.
Dust Bowl begins with a cool opening riff before the drums kick in and a splendid groove is created thanks in no small measure to Buff Harris’ superb bass playing that is most evident on this song. The chorus of ‘this is God’s plan’ provides nice mini crescendos and there is again a nice rock guitar-style solo. It’s yet another good song.
SH&T is a slightly more sinister track with a tremendous groove. It is incredible to think that this was all recorded on a home studio, indeed I would never have guessed this if I hadn’t been told. The song ends with a nice bit of piano and trumpet
Promise to Keep begins with a bluesy riff and moves along very nicely, with excellent vocals and backing vocals along the lines of a promise to seek retribution, ‘’you sow what you reap’. The guitar solo is more metal than psychobilly or rockabilly, but it works. The song concludes with a delightful passage on the acoustic guitar.
Desoto begins with some sublime Spanish guitar before a Sabbathesque riff kicks in which is featured throughout the song as it emerges from each quiet phase, the dynamics on this song are impressive. At this stage the band can really be said to be pushing all of my buttons.
This really is a remarkable achievement of an album; sonically, it is wonderful and the collection of wonderfully- written songs sit together as a holistic masterpiece.
SOURCE: Official Bio