SPV/Rookies and Kings
Review by Rick Ossian
When one takes into account that Bone City is Spit Fire’s all-important second offering, it takes a person back a step or two. Granted, many times a band will come out of the chute immediately with a debut that takes the world by storm. Spit Fire‘s 2013 said debut, Devil‘s Dance, was very good, but Bone City takes the prize and runs away grinning. Contained herein are no less than 14 Ramones-size nuggets to sink your teeth into. Let’s chew on them one at a time, shall we?
Before we get too far into things, let’s size up the personnel; Germany‘s Spit Fire are Dick Dropkick on lead vocals and guitar, Johnny Jailbreak on bass and backing vocals and Nikk Nitro on drums and backing vocals. They are all involved on each number, interestingly enough, as most three-piece outfits seem to be. On opener Here We Go, for example, Johnny and Nikk set up a nicely chugging, mind-humping riff. A heavy drum/guitar intro is soon followed by good-time heavy rock, fueled mainly by the drums. There is a guitar solo at about the 2-minute mark, which is amazing in and of itself considering the tune is just over three minutes long.
Lengthwise, the three-to-four-minute chomp seems to be the order of the day here, as there are no prog-length epics to dissect. Dick LOVES to use the f-word, which is okay in my book; so few good rock bands curse anymore, you know? Too Young to Die features storyteller-type vocals, a slamming drum intro and a nice headbanging rhythm.
Queen of the Night is also a big slammer, both vocally and instrumentally. The main riff is clean and hard and straight to the point, which is pretty much a requirement when you only use up a few minutes at a time. This is, for the most part, heavy rock mixed with punk. There is sort of a lead guitar solo – briefly short but super sweet (2:25), and we end the proceedings with squeals and feedback.
Bone City Radio is one we should listen to at maximum volume, according to Dick (‘Turn up the motherfuckin’ Bone City Radio!’). This is the place to be, evidently, as Dick also informs us that this is the ‘one and only rock and roll show’, and it ‘tastes like dynamite/ready to ignite’. Though the vocals have their subdued moments, they don’t last; usually we find Dick shouting and screaming as opposed to a subdued whisper, which is good for rock and roll – folks can’t hear you at the back of the venue if you are whispering.
Fall From Grace features another pretty cool drum and guitar intro, and is anthemic at its best moments. Lyrically, we are treated to what seems to be a Spit Fire credo: ‘No retreat/No surrender‘. There are other lyrics that bear mention, but seem to be a bit pedestrian: ‘I’m gonna leave this town/leave without a trace/leave this fucking place‘. Hey, it rhymes, so everything’s fine, right?
Motorman heralds another slamming number, and is kind of Motörhead-esque, which isn’t too surprising, given its title. Again, the lyrics say it all; ‘I’m the trigger of a loaded gun/the gasoline that makes the motor run/rollin’ like the devil’s train/survivor of the dead man’s hand’. It’s words and tunes like these that make a guy want to stand up and play air guitar!
Battlefield begins life with a mellower, more introspective mindset. There is some nice guitar work here as well. Do NOT think that Spit Fire have gone soft on us, however. They soon quash any of those types of fears, and lyrically (again), they are on fire: ‘Back to raise some hell/to find the road that leads me home/shattered memory in mind/going to leave it all behind‘. Immature, you might say? Well, it IS only their second recording.
Hell and High Water finds us chugging and pumping again. There is a sweet intro here, and vocally, we find the boys ‘Rollin like a thunder train at supersonic speed/…another mouth to feed’. This is mainly hillbilly boogie mixed with metal, for those of you keeping track.
Bridges Burned includes a lovely lead guitar intro, cool drums and a chugging rhythm. This is mainly classic hard rock/heavy metal stuff, with another lead guitar solo at the 3-minute mark. ‘WATCH YOUR STEP’, Dick warns us, but they are hardly preaching to the choir now, are they?
Last Gang in Town is another heavy duty tune. ‘FUCK YEAH!‘ shouts Dick, and announces that they are ‘tragic little bastards/we’re not ready to withdraw/resurrected from the army of the dead‘. There is a brief moment of lead guitar shred about 2 minutes in.
Take Me Home features more heaviness and a cool guitar intro. Things are slamming again, and vocally, as before, this scribe was reminded of Black Star Riders. At 2:30 there is a lead guitar solo, and at 2:50 we find that rock anomaly, the false ending! It doesn’t happen very often- usually they just fade out towards the end, but sometimes we get lucky. Personally, I wish that all of these tunes had gone on for a bit, but we don’t want punters vacating their seats due to tunes drawn out ad nauseum…
Dust and Bones features yet another sweet guitar intro, this time including the bass and drums ever-so-slightly. The main riff is a nice one, and made me think for just a moment that I was in Riff City instead of Bone City! We are treated to a ZZ Top-style number with this one, and at 2 minutes in there is a riff breakdown of sorts, followed shortly by a quick snippet of lead guitar.
Desperado includes one more sweet guitar intro and one more heavy main riff. ‘STAND UP/STAY STRONG’, Dick bellows at us, and we are inclined to listen. The lyrics bear mentioning here again as well, it seems; ‘The remains of a dying breed with a rebel soul/Desperado is the devil’s son’ (nice couplet) and ‘Like a soldier with a loaded gun/Invincible and ready to fight‘. Not a lot of rhyming going on there, but I believe that rock bands are entitled to some poetic license, right? From about the 2-minute mark to 2:40 we hear a lead guitar solo, a breakdown, and guitar histrionics, ending with squeals and shredding.
The closer, Danger Zone, is a cover of Kenny Loggins‘ tune from the Days of Thunder movie soundtrack (Tom Cruise, anyone?), and while I would never have thought that this tune would work in this context, it truly does! Spit Fire infuses it with just the right amount of heaviness, and it’s off to the races we go! Top marks!