After the tragic death of their bassist Simon Wring in 2011, Gallon Drunk continued as a trio, releasing The Road Gets Darker From Here, a furious raw document of their stance at the time, almost a tribute to their own live appearances. After that, the band toured with Leo Kurunis on bass, and today the quartet has moved on even more, bringing also with them that raw, furious sound, combined with even better tracks, making these recordings some of their best work to date.“The Soul Of The Hour” starts off carefully in a quiet piano mood and with a careful approach by Ian White on the toms (overall approval of his use of toms, by the way!) on “Before The Fire.” The track grows into this hypnotic looped-like catchy tune, lasting an astounding nine minutes, and it eventually appears raw, heartbreaking; and as a way to start an album, a pure image for other rock acts to follow. It sets the tone of the record completely, as the tracks range from the wild, dirty soul-blues of “The Dumb Room” to subtly emotional, even sad, songs wrenched out by James Johnston in his heartfelt upper register.
The album is packed with naked, harsh vulnerability, with dirty soundscapes meeting krautrock, psychedelia and soul. The third track “The Exit Sign” is a typical example of that fantastic kraut-motorik that Gallon Drunk sometimes show a very good capability for, and this track especially reminds me very much of the way the now defunct S/T could go on and on with that motorik beat, magnificently combined with their mesmerizing, out-of-this world psychedelic sounds. The way the band also bravely combine brute force with some almost slick, licking, pompous brass, ’70s organ-style keys or careful backing vocals mixed with dark, dirty soulful rock’n’roll makes them grow even more on me, creating a distinct and recognizable Gallon Drunk groove-sound.The album is well played, and the track “Over And Over” proves they are catchy, steady and grooving as well. The last track “The Speed Of Fear” is a great finale, and the title justifies the track; it’s got a speedy mood, looping, repeating, with occasional sounds creeping into you, or Terry Edwards’ sexy sax barely touching in; and Johnston’s belching vocals. But still that guitar/bass/drum lick is grooving over and over again, which puts me right in the car driving my hangover away, along darkened, wet, vaguely-lit suburban streets, waiting for heaven to happen, relieving me of an undertaker’s hell from last night’s bravado. It does.