The Smoking Hearts may be a band you’ve come across at some point. They’ve been doing the rounds for a while now, but for some reason their punk influenced rock n’ roll has remained largely off any mainstream radar. Luckily for them their debut album ‘Victory’ might just go some way in remedying that. ‘Victory’ is a ballzy record largely characterized by lead singer Ben Mills gruelling vocals. Mills’ vocals have all the eye-bulging energy and charisma of Frank Carter in his Gallows period, comparisons with Carter will be hard to avoid with this particular genre mix.
The Smoking Hearts sound their best when the Mötorhead and Zeke riffs come out to play. Take ‘Stomper’ and ‘Blue Nuns’, everything about those tracks seem to prove that this band were born to to play cocky guitar led rock. Yet, because of that fact tracks like ‘Natural Disasters’ and ‘Benedict’ don’t quite hit the spot – you can see what they are going for, aggressive vocals balanced by a cleaner more melodic counterpart worked well for Alexisonfire and Deaf Havana but that was their Forté, alas on ‘Victory’ it just sounds confused. That said however, the chorus of ‘Seatbelts’ proves that when they are clear in their intentions they really know how to write a great track. It’s super catchy and oozes with character, it doesn’t attempt to break any new ground but brims with attitude and conviction.
The Smoking Hearts are most certainly not a flash in the pan band, indeed, they have all makings to be right up there with groups like Cancer Bats and Gallows. The difference between ‘Victory’ and albums such as ‘Orchestra of Wolves’ or ‘Hail Destroyer’ is that the latter were utterly uncompromising in their sound, refusing to meet on a middle ground, while the former awkwardly limps between melody and abrasiveness, finding neither to be completely satisfying.