So, following their 'Fame Shame' single that was released during Autumn 2019, Scotland's Anchor Lane's first full-length outing is now upon us. Taking a look back at my summary of their single, which I awarded a rather respectable 8/10, I concluded there's "plenty of meat on the song, which occupies a kind of ambiguous ground between punk, retro hard rock and trad metal." More of the same on ‘Casino’? You bet. Actually, their sonic palette is a little wider within the context of a full platter of songs, with sporadic passages of blues, alt-rock, and tracks based around jingly-jangly clean guitar motifs (well, just one piece of jingle-jangle, I guess, in the form of ‘Shell On Me’).
Genre affiliations aside, Anchor Lane are, bottom-line, a rather great rock band. Just like their 2019 single (which is also featured here, as track two), musical idioms can be easily identified from the oeuvre of any number of bands or scenes, but it’s all about the amalgam in Anchor Lane’s compositions. They’re evidently adept at crafting their influences into a refined fusion of flavours and alluring melodies, while maintaining a raw, free-flowing edge to the material. This is a nicely organic sounding album, in terms of both performance and production. And, as per the ‘Fame Shame’ single, onetime Little Angels vocalist, Toby Jepson, has knob twiddled his way through all the tracks, capturing and preserving what, to my ears, sounds like a neat live vibe. Nothing’s overly polished, which helps with the raw immediacy of the delivery of the songs.
Not only have they garnered the production skills of Jepson, but another luminary from the scene co-wrote a couple of tracks with the band - namely, the one and only Ricky Warwick. Receiving a co-writing credit for ‘Blood & Irony’ and ‘Dead Run’, he also contributes backing vocals to the latter, which kind of evokes echoes of Warwick’s The Almighty past during each instance of the chorus, a band who, themselves, fused elements of metal, hard rock and punk.
All in all, ‘Casino’ is a mightily fine start for Anchor Lane and will hopefully prove to be a springboard to greater recognition and a wider set of opportunities on the live circuit. They’ve already, apparently, supported with the likes of Cheap Trick, Eagles of Death Metal and Tremonti, as well as earning some tasty festival slots at Download, Hard Rock Hell, Stone Free, et al. And ‘Casino’ will indubitably see them continue along the path they’re already part way down, to greater rock glory.
Review by Mark Holmes
31st January 2020
1) Blood & Irony
2) Fame Shame
6) Stone Cold Hearted
7) Shell of Me
9) Dead Run
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"They’re evidently adept at crafting their influences into a refined fusion of flavours and alluring melodies, while maintaining a raw, free-flowing edge to the material."