Label: Spira Records
Date: September 15th, 2022
Some ten days ago I returned from my first visit to Berlin. A vacation that once again confirmed my lifelong obsession with anything World War II related. “Nazi-holic” indeed. A glance at the horror, whilst standing at its very foundation was an eye-opening experience, to say the least. I’ve declared to my travel companions as well, that I needed a break from studying Nazism. My head is filled to the brim with it.
And then this album falls into my lap. “Battle of Britain”. How can I dismiss it? No way! After all, the event was among the major miscalculations of the Reich and a stepping stone into final victory for the allies. So, yes, I was expecting a victorious enchantment, as opposed to unspeakable terror.
Alas, it was not to be.
I’m sure most of you are aware that Little Villains is a band started in 2006 by three musicians, one of them being “Philthy Animal” Taylor. Of Motörhead, of course. “Battle of Britain” is the second full length since Mr. Taylor is no longer among us. And I might sound a bit harsh in the following sentence, but I believe it to be true. The record lacks a “filthy animal”.
First of all, I don’t have a confirmed information, but from what I can hear, “Battle of Britain” is not a rounded concept album. It does start with “Messerschmitt” and ends with “Spitfire”. There are a couple of other tracks that I think fall unto the historic pretext of the Battle of Britain, but the rest do not. Again, that’s if I’m not mistaken. I didn’t receive any lyrics, nor can I find it anywhere online.
However, even if the album is not a concept one, it should not be considered an issue. What actually is an issue, is the audio part of the record. The thing is bland. It’s watered down. Mellow. It lacks a punch. Little Villains do their best to sound like a hard-hitting heavy rock ‘n’ roll machine. Like Motörhead used to be. They go for that primeval attitude that made British rock scene a standalone in the world of music. All of which by adding “oh-so-British” elements to their tunes. Early NWOBHM pops up here and there. Even Rolling Stones rear their old heads from time to time.
In other words, the trio tries to sound nasty, villainous… “Philthy”… Failing miserably almost every step of the way. It’s as if they just missed that raw, unhinged energy while recording the album. “Battle of Britain” sounds clinical. Not just in the production segment. The production only accentuated these faults, by doing its best to drag the sound through the necessary mud. It’s the performance by the band that matters the most. Here, it seems as if the band is just too schooled in musical theory to go berserk in the recording studio and let us feel that insatiable voltage they’re looking to spread. Particularly in the vocal department. The voice is way too clean, way too sober, careful, peaceful, calm, for the message it tries to convey of fierce rock ‘n’ roll warriors battling it out in the skies over London.
Naturally, I will point out the faster tracks as the highlights of “Battle of Britain”. They are the ones that actually bear the most impact on the listener. However, there’s a “but” here, too. Even when the energy soars to a peak (with regard to the rest of this particular album), the creative side of Little Villains remains on a very modest scale. Sure, the band is going for the primal, raw and uncontrolled feeling (however successfully), so you cannot quite expect any sort of virtuosity. Still, this type of music demands catchiness. The trio completely and utterly ignores the demand. No matter how hard I try, after repeated listening sessions, for a couple of days at least, now that the music has stopped, on an early Monday morning, I cannot, for the life of me, remember a single riff.
What I can remember is a decent chorus to the opening track. A catchy, though simple one. I can also remember “Mush”, a song that sounds just like its title. Mushy and out of place. Like Motörhead covering Oasis. I can remember those faster moments, like the punky vibe in “Spitfire”. But that’s just the speed. A concrete fragment of a song, a riff, bridge, chorus… None whatsoever.
Basically, if you’re looking for an attitude-fueled rock ‘n’ roll, thundering hard rock or heavy metal punk, swerve around “Battle of Britain”. It’s not what you need. Little Villains need to get properly pissed the next time around. Whether on psychoactive substance, or life itself, but it’s a necessity if they want to perform this type of music and sound convincing.