Album review – Thunderstick – Something Wicked This Way Comes
NWoBHM legend and all round great bloke Barry Graham Purkis AKA Thunderstick returns to the sonic stage with an album that belies the almost 30-year absence of new material from the hallowed Thinderstick moniker.
I reached out to Barry via his press contact to request an interview as I was seriously taken by the strength of Something Wicked This Way Comes.
At this stage in my podcast and written media career I have spoken to well over 100 musicians, artists and performers of various fame and in vastly different stages of their career. Barry is one of the nicest and most congenial blokes I have encountered.
We discussed the album, his storied history and life in general. He is a bloke that I would love to see succeed and not just because of his wonderful attitude and general demeanour during our chat; Something Wicked This Way Comes is an album that will vie for the #1 spot on my year end album ‘best of 2017’ lists.
What qualities does the album possess that make it such a success then? Let’s start with chanteuse Lucy V, the voice of Thunderstick.
When I first heard the lead album cut, “Go Sleep with the Enemy (I Dare Ya)”, under a recent post on Blabbermouth, I was captivated. Lucy’s vocal stylings are almost androgynous, delivered in a bold manner yet possessing exquisite soul. Lucy is a relative newcomer to the international stage, yet her performance across the album hints at years of performance experience. Contestants on soul destroying shows such as The Voice, Australian Idol/Pop Idol and Australia/ Britain’s Got Talent should be handed a copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes and told to listen. Listen very carefully. Take notes. Observe Lucy’s technique and apply that to their 15 minutes of fame so at least there is some substance on offer.
The man at the centre of the recording is renowned for his history alongside Iron Maiden front man Bruce Dickinson, his brief tenure in the pre-album version of Iron Maiden and for his on-stage costuming in Samson that now includes a bejewelled face-mask, ‘Lucha libre’ style.
Make no mistake about Purkis’ intent across the album cuts on Something Wicked This Way Comes. His performance on the drums and percussion is as noteworthy as Lucy V’s vocal performance. Purkis’ drumming is mostly shuffle- and swing-infused rock’n’roll and this means that he plays unlike almost any other drummer on stage in rock’n’roll in 2017. Almost every rock and metal album that I have listened to for the purposes of a review this year contain compressed, metronome-perfect drumming that lacks what I would term spirit, life… soul. Purkis’ performance breathes, his playing moves and grooves without dominating the recording in a manner that detracts from the songs themselves.
For the less travelled listener, there may be a temptation to file Something Wicked This Way Comes in with your collection of old-school Maiden, Priest and NWoBHM classics.
This is a recording for 2017. I wish that more bands were producing music that feels as fresh and vital as Something Wicked This Way Comes.
The album cuts have been well produced, engineered and mastered offering a very honest sound. The album cuts are presented without any dressing or garnish and it serves them well. I can’t offer an album highlight as I don’t want to select one cut above another, they are all solid. If I were to describe the narrative or theme across the album cuts I’d say blues-based hard rock, with Lucy V’s excellent vocal complimenting the sound.
The string section and contribution of Martin Shellard (guitar), Dave Kilford (guitar) and Rex Thunderbolt (bass) are excellent. Not names that you will be familiar with but I recall death metal’s patron saint Chuck Schuldiner selecting relative unknowns for his career defining and final offering from Death, The Sound of Perseverance (’98) and his swansong; Control Denied’s ill-fated yet titanic The Fragile Art of Existence (’99). Both albums seem to grow in relevance as the years advance and I’d suggest that Purkis and crew will experience a similar destiny through Something Wicked This Way Comes.
So, this is an album that took me by surprise! Good luck to the band and Purkis as they promote the album. If success were measured in quality then Something Wicked This Way Comes is nothing but an absolute success.