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4.5 out of 5 stars34
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Downloaded this album very cheaply from I Tunes. There is a real buzz about this power trio from Southampton and it's easy to see why. The album is not particularly challenging or original but is a perfect soundtrack to the summer and should happily rock from car stereos across the land. Indeed its great to see a UK band exploring territory which almost has a US copyright and succeeding in making it their own. I had previously heard the single "I don't know what I am" and actually thought it was the White Stripes albeit at their most commercial. Indeed White Stripes references abound on the first three tracks which is not a bad thing if the songs are as good as these (although I not certain about the record title).

Band of Skulls play with such confidence and verve that it's hard not to believe that they been around for years. "Death by Diamond and Pearls" does indeed evoke the squiggly purple one (Prince) with a very raunchy guitar riff before it heads off into Black Keys territory. "Blood" is swamp blues beautifully sung by Emma Richardson whose voice resonates very much like the great P J Harvey. Richardson shares vocal duties with lead guitarist Russell Mardsen. "Fires" is sung by both and is a great rock song.

I actually like the songs on this album most which detour from the more conventional rock format. Cold Fame is one of these and the album highlight. A very slow almost Radiohead like lament and is probably incredible live. Similarly the folksy and acoustic "Honest" sung beautifully by Richardson again steers into territory where perhaps the Band of Skulls will spend more time in the future. Mixing folk songs, blues and rock highlight that the true lineage of the "Band of Skulls" is the classic British rock of Cream and Led Zeppelin with some Pretenders thrown in for good measure. Indeed "Light of the Morning" sounds like something off Zeppelin's BBC sessions with drummer Matthew Hayward bashing away in true Bonham style over a Page style heavy blues riff. Perhaps upon reflection this album wears its influences a bit too openly its sleeve but this is a very new band and to hit this quality this early is astounding. An album then chock full of huge choruses and huge riffs and very commercial to boot, you suspect that this band has got what it takes to mount a frontal assault on the charts and no doubt headline a festival or two. Let us hope when doing so they develop the template set out here in a deeper way as the song "Dull Gold Heart" suggests is immanently possible. A new British band to watch with real interest.
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on 24 November 2009
A friend recommended this album after seeing a review of it in the paper, and on first listen I was instantly hooked, so I immediatly bought it. I had never heard of them before, and THEN suddenly I'd found a new favourite band! Every song is strong and catchy, yet heavy in a controlled, melodic sense, but never "metal", by no means, oh no. With a couple of soft numbers, this album definetly has its dynamics. The guitars sound amazing, and enough spring reverb to shake a stick at! The drums sound really full and organic, and the basslines are as catchy as the guitar riffs. Vocals is where band of skulls really shine I think. There is a male and female vocalist, and when both are harmonising, it works incredibly well, both really great singers, and some ace lyrics to boot.
So go ahead and buy this album if your wanting something differant, and I'm sure people of most rock/popular styles will appereciate and find something to love in this album! Cant wait to see these guys live.
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on 11 May 2010
Heard 'Death by Diamonds and Pearls' on the radio, thought it sounded like the White Stripes and was astonished to hear the DJ say it was Band of Skulls (who are they I wondered and are they heavy metal? - don't mind if they are even, cos I love that stuff too). Next thought was I have to get this and find out more because the sound coming out of this band is different AND you know, this CD is a fantastic mix of stuff - heavy, folksy, lots of shouting, lots of drums, clapping, super guitar riffs, great lyrics and oh yes, Emma Richardson's voice is just so nice (listen to the Honest track - just divine). I have a bit of a crush. This band shows so much promise and can go so far. I'm going to be following them closely from now on.
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on 16 October 2010
This particular band are picking up speed with every step at the moment. It seems the more you hear, the more gigs you appear at, the better they sound and the more attention they seem to soak up. Take Reading Festival 2010 for example. I made the mistake of thinking they were a little bit underground and unknown for many people to be there and so made my way over to the NME tent just in time for their set to begin. But I was shocked by the amount of people present, singing with their hands in the air and rocking out everywhere.

How to describe them escapes me...think Von Bondies, Kings of Leon and White Stripes in a blender. From the very beginning of the album they grab you by the sweat-drenched t-shirt and make you scream the lyrics. "Light of the Morning" is certainly not the strongest song of the album, but is by no means the kind of track that makes you jump for the skip button. "Death by Diamonds and Pearls" is where you really hear their talent. The fantastic muddy sound of the guitar and bass, along with the slow, crashing drums and the male/female mix of vocals.

They then take a more downbeat, minimalist approach with the amazing "I Know What I Am", "Fires" and "Honest". Of the three, it's the former that really makes you stomp your feet and then forces a smile onto your face with a genuinely dirty, crispy solo.

"Patterns", "Hollywood Bowl" and "Bomb" turn a dark corner, bringing out the heavy weight subject matter, before their Kings of Leon influence rears it's unmistakeable head in "Impossible" and "Blood".

After this, you should be feeling tired and the final two tracks of the album bring the pace down to a crawl. "Dull Gold Heart" and "Cold Fame" are sleeper tracks and give the impression that the band has just roared through a whole set of tracks and has saved the chilled material for the end. Lighters in the air please!
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Downloaded this album very cheaply from I Tunes. There is a real buzz about this power trio from Southampton and it's easy to see why. The album is not particularly challenging or original but is a perfect soundtrack to the summer and should happily rock from car stereos across the land. Indeed its great to see a UK band exploring territory which almost has a US copyright and succeeding in making it their own. I had previously heard the single "I don't know what I am" and actually thought it was the White Stripes albeit at their most commercial. Indeed White Stripes references abound on the first three tracks which is not a bad thing if the songs are as good as these (although I not certain about the record title).

Band of Skulls play with such confidence and verve that it's hard not to believe that they been around for years. "Death by Diamond and Pearls" does indeed evoke the squiggly purple one (Prince) with a very raunchy guitar riff before it heads off into Black Keys territory. "Blood" is swamp blues beautifully sung by Emma Richardson whose voice resonates very much like the great P J Harvey. Richardson shares vocal duties with lead guitarist Russell Mardsen. "Fires" is sung by both and is a great rock song.

I actually like the songs on this album most which detour from the more conventional rock format. Cold Fame is one of these and the album highlight. A very slow almost Radiohead like lament and is probably incredible live. Similarly the folksy and acoustic "Honest" sung beautifully by Richardson again steers into territory where perhaps the Band of Skulls will spend more time in the future. Mixing folk songs, blues and rock highlight that the true lineage of the "Band of Skulls" is the classic British rock of Cream and Led Zeppelin with some Pretenders thrown in for good measure. Indeed "Light of the Morning" sounds like something off Zeppelin's BBC sessions with drummer Matthew Hayward bashing away in true Bonham style over a Page style heavy blues riff. Perhaps upon reflection this album wears its influences a bit too openly its sleeve but this is a very new band and to hit this quality this early is astounding. An album then chock full of huge choruses and huge riffs and very commercial to boot, you suspect that this band has got what it takes to mount a frontal assault on the charts and no doubt headline a festival or two. Let us hope when doing so they develop the template set out here in a deeper way as the song "Dull Gold Heart" suggests is immanently possible. A new British band to watch with real interest.
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on 10 June 2010
I took a punt on this band after hearing a couple of tracks and just can't stop playing it.

Yes, you could point to the obvious White Stripes-PJ Harvey-Radiohead references, but for a young band from Southampton to put out such a self-assured debut full of great riffs and subtle atmospherics is one hell of an achievement.

Simply, there isn't a duff track on here, and I actually think the album starts well and keeps getting better. How many lps can you say that about?

As well as the aforementioned influences, they float my boat particularly because they have musical passages that remind me of The God Machine, Jane's Addiction and Rush. Yes, that's right, Rush.

But for all the bludgeon riffola, it's the quieter moments I love the most, with Impossible, Dull Gold Heart and Honest being just sublime. Quite simply, a great modern rock album.
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on 28 August 2009
What is it with collective mindsets? In recent times, there was first rife affection for the definite article when naming a band, and then there wasn't. Then came mass love of a particular noun, often used an pre-modifier for a favoured stage name, see Wolf and Crystal. And now, a new alignment in nomenclature, Skulls picking up where Horses left off.

This Southampton three-piece come soaked in bourbon and steeped in the blues. Not just any blues though, White Striped blues. Track one, `Light Of The Morning', is comparable to the fabled sibling's Zeppelin-aping debut, complete with whammy bar indulgence. Two, `Death By Diamonds And Pearls' is more in line with the commercially-minded Get Behind Me Satan. Happily, Band of Skulls never stray into the madcap oddness of Icky Thump.

Completing the opening trinity is `I Know What I Am', a former iTunes track-of-the-week ,and highly-infectious stomper run through with credible pop cracked with the Duke Spirit's blues. Emma Richardson's vocal is less than the latter's inimitable Liela Moss, but stronger than Meg's throughout. Russell Mardsen's nasal whoopin' and a-hollerin' is satisfactory, rarely more. The unquestionable appeal of `I Know What I Am' is later reprised on third single, `Patterns', all crunching guitar work, dancefloor-friendly beats and memorable, but lightweight, lyrics.

Luckily, there is more to `Baby Darling ...' than a faithful retread of the Stripes' catalogue, some of it a success, some less so. The breathy, acoustic parts of album closer `Cold Fame' recall the inadvisable parts of The Old Romantic Killer Band's 2008 album The Swan with Two Necks. For them Leeds wasn't quite Louisiana, an argument which can be extended here to include Southampton.

The real let down is the lack of knowing when less is more. 12 tracks would have been better as 10. `Hollywood Bowl' is one of these, an inconsequential experiment in pop-rock underscored with childish `heys!', the next track `Bomb' another contender, sub Duke Spirit mewing with novelty ticking-guitar FX. The timeless folk of `Honest' however, whilst not revolutionary, is wholly affecting set crying against its backdrop of blues.
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on 25 December 2009
I saw these guys in an small venue in Cardiff - really good.
So I bought the album later, but credit wheres credits due - this is a good bunch of tracks.
They've got a style of their own and if UR interested have a listen, then you'll want to buy this album.
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on 1 July 2013
I love this album! It is backed to the brim with great tracks. A mixture of gutsy grimey lyrics and music to quite intimate heartfelt songs with just as much impact. Quite rare for a band to be able to achieve both so well. They are great live too- I have seen them twice and love them more each time I listen. Their second album is good too but this is all killer, no filler.
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on 4 March 2012
I went to see The Black Keys in concert recently, and Band Of Skulls supported. I had never heard of them before but was pleasantly surprised by their performance. I heard the new album was coming out so went out to buy that. But I have to say, this album is better than the new one. Very simple but very catchy. I haven't stopped listening to it since.
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