Blackfire Revelation — Gold and Guns on 51 EP

The Blackfire Revelation – Gold and Guns on 51
Fat Possum – 4 Stars

A minor squawk of feedback.  A tiny rattle of cymbals.  Then John Fields calls attention.  “Ladies and Gentlemen!”  Guitarist Fields and drummer Hank Haney lock into a dense groove while every electronic instrument in the greater New Orleans area feeds back with vigor.  This is the way the Blackfire Revelation announce themselves.  The local two-piece, big on intensity and volume do not let up over the course of the five song Gold and Guns on 51 EP.  For 25 minutes, nothing matters but the grit of the levee and the squeal of tires on asphalt.  Blackfire self-released Gold and Guns last fall before signing to Oxford, Mississippi’s Fat Possum records, who are now re-releasing it.  Imagine the Black Keys as pain junkies.  But while the Keys are more than happy to oblige to at least some semblance of radio-friendliness, Blackfire passes, opting instead for raw power.  And that’s really the group’s biggest strength; Fields, while by no means a bad guitarist, is no Hendrix, and Haney no Bonham, but the two make so much noise with so much emotion that virtuosity would only distract from the honesty of the music.  “Preach to the Choir” is the requisite slow number here, darkening the alright opaque mood with the line “I lost all my money / But I still got my guns” while Fields and Haney crawl along, barefoot on an Irish Channel street.

Listening to Gold and Guns is like stepping on broken glass, but in a good way; while the noise is powerful, painful, and a bit frightening, it feeds that masochistic part of the brain, it releases endorphins.  “Yes,” it shouts, “this is it!  This is the real rock and fucking roll!”  No matter how quiet my stereo is at the EP’s beginning, it always ends at full blast.  And forget trying to write or do anything while listening to it.  You think that this is the first draft of this review?  This is music that commands attention.  Fields’ leads cut ahead of the Zakk Wylde/Randy Rhoades line straight to vintage, Crossroads-style blues.  No one will ever really know for sure if Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to learn how to play guitar, but if he had had a drummer like Hank Haney behind him and a stack of vintage amps, Moby might have sampled “Battle Hymn” .

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