The first time Belfastmetalheadsreunited caught Hunger's Mother live we unfairly compared them to what was then a burgeoning hard blues/classic rock scene (that was four plus years ago, when Classic Rock magazine's sales were just beginning to rise). Guitarist Neill McIlfatrick rightly upbraided us, pointing out that the band aimed for much, much more.
With the release of the long awaited 'Spies of Torr' album it is clear that Hunger's Mother are deploying a varied and innovative take in a sea of sameness. Regular readers know we despise the genre labels lazy music hacks bestow on bands - but for one we can apply a label: Hunger's Mother fall firmly within the genre 'Hard rocking progressive blues space rock'.
Spies of Torr opens up with the celtic tinged Killing Sphere, doffing a cap to the legacy of Lizzy and Horslips. It concludes with Time Travel Volunteers, a sprawling nine minute progtastic journey through relativity (yep, that would be the theory of relativity and Stephen Hawking's assertion that while you cannot travel at the speed of light, theoretically you can travel faster using worm holes....shit, almost forgot it was a metal blog not a physics paper!).
And therein lies the joy within Spies of Torr. Classic rock vibes and Rush style prog merge seamlessly. Neal Calderwood's production lends a space to the production, allowing drums, bass, guitar and vocals to breathe.
Some may see it all as a touch retro, but they forget the roots that forged the hard rock and metal of today. Hunger's Mother provide a bang up-to-date take on the late 60s proto metal scene that saw Iron Butterfly and Cream blaze a trail. They are the north Irish bastard sons of the Woodstock generation - the Woodstock that saw Alvin Lee, Joe Cocker, The Who and Hendrix share a blissed out blitzed out stage with hippies, rockers and too much LSD.
After the celtic blitz of Killing Sphere, Spies of Torr manages to capture that road trip vibe from the US that we can never enjoy on this small isle through the strains and twists of Empty Love.
Outta Control kicks off with a riff classic rockers across the land would die for, with political lyrics and a chilled out mid-section that revvs up again with a bass sound reminiscent of Geezer Butler's NIB intro.
Mama Told Me's plaintive strains are harmony dredged from the Bayou with more than a splash of irony and humour amidst the minor key.
Hunger's Mother have had a long road to see this platter given the airing it deserves. Some might be put off by the weird celtic imagery that pervades their cover art and liner material. Heathens!
Spies of Torr is a diverse recording in the best sense of the word, with excellent muscianship backing up ever stronger songs.