It can be rather hard to make an effective statement when you take yourself a little too seriously, especially in a genre as frequently reverential as heavy rock. When trading in fuzz and fury, it’s usually the bands that don’t take themselves too seriously that standout. Swedish newcomers Ball are one such act; their self-titled debut brims with the sort of sleazy, tongue-in-cheek fun that’s made Uncle Acid a household name in recent years. Ball are certainly a heavy band – there is no shortage of grit and dirt here – but they’re not really a menacing one. Although the lyrics gleefully delve into satanism, it’s more of a loving parody than a sincere evocation of evil.
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Throughout the 32 minutes of their debut album, Ball give the impression of being a group of musicians completely infatuated with the heavy, groove laden psych-doom they perform. There’s a palpable sense of enthusiasm through the six songs, complemented by some impressive guitar work which only reinforces the idea that Ball are a band of musicians in love with that most inexorable of mistresses; the riff. When listening to the album, there are a few reference points along the way – the snide gutter punk of Satans Satyrs, the scuzzy mind-fuckery of Alucarda and at times even Electric Wizard – but ultimately Ball are a band with a refreshingly singular identity.
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Ball walk the line between parody and homage with grace – or at least as much of it that you can when trading with riffs heavier than lumber trucks – and they never feel insincere but at the same have an almost Spinal Tap sense of the absurd about them. Strip away the band’s tongue-in-cheek sleaze-merchant persona, though, and you’re still left a short-but-sweet collection of songs that stand as some of the best heavy rock that this year has seen so far.
It’s this duality of genuine heaviness and almost parodic lyricism that elevates Ball’s eponymous album from a good set of scuzzy doom-punk tracks to a great one. In a genre where too many bands frown in their promo photos, Ball are a breath of anarchic, joyous fresh air.