GravelRoad: The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin Review

Dirty, heavy on the low-end, and aggressive – if there used to be a Burt Merlin, he’s clearly made the wrong folks angry.  GravelRoad have been called psychedelic blues – don’t get that confused with the slower, methodical, mind-melding riffs of Wilson T King.  The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin’s idea of mild-altering blues isn’t actually the main attraction, since it’s hiding under their heavy, driving, cranked-to-11 hard rock sounds.  Most of the time, GravelRoad are happy to play blues-infused southern rock with a heavy beat that entices some clapping or stomping.  Sometimes, it’s a little over-the-top.  For the most part, though, GravelRoad have successfully created a record with a distinct, developed sound that’s not exactly immediate or hook-oriented, but not exactly difficult or alienating, a difficult line to walk.

Since what GravelRoad does well, they do in more of a subtle way.  Unfortunately, this means the off moments on The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin stand out more than they should.  The “faster, louder” qualities of “Med Pass” just aren’t completely believable; similarly, “Cocaine Baby” leaves you with the distinct feeling that GravelRoad are miserable that the ’80s are over.  At the very least, however, the energy behind “Cocaine Baby” feels far less contrived than on “Med Pass,” and the song’s repeated vocal line “I’m a Cocaine Baby,” has a slide-in quality that fills the space above the aggressive guitar work fantastically.

On the flip side, the marriage of guitar and bass on “Bottom of the World,” get into a perfect groove, and “Death Bed Blues” features some fantastically muscular drumming and guitar interplay that creates a soundscape your ears could feast on.  “Monkey With a Wig” offers some of the same unadulterated energy that GravelRoad have made their legacy, only this time everything connects.  “Maybe the Wind” features some fantastic slide guitar on top of a thick percussive layer, rounding out the elements on The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin.

The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin has its moments, both great and forgettable.  For the most part, after a few listens the great parts will overtake the forgettable parts.  The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin comes out as a solid album in the end.

The Review: 7.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Monkey With a Wig
– Maybe the Wind
– Bottom of the World
– Bring Me Back

The Big Hit

– Monkey With a Wig

Review by Richard MacDougall

One thought on “GravelRoad: The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin Review

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