The 3rd album from Leicester hard rockers, SKAM can be seen as a fairly ambitious record and a loose concept album I guess. The Amazing Memoirs of Geoffrey Goddard features a story-arc of Squadron Leader Geoffrey Goddard, a test pilot from 1935, who is a victim of strange forces that jolt him through time.
Prologue starts the album complete with rain and plane sound effects with Squadron Leader Goddard giving us some background to his tale, setting the scene for how his strange experiences began.
Straight away you can hear and feel the room as Neal’s drums kick off Between The Eyes before some understated bass work from Matt and a tasty riff from Steve. Lyrically this song takes off from what Prologue touched upon, describing the take-off and then hitting the heavy turbulence, to the clouds clearing and Geoffrey finding himself seemingly in another time.
Iron Cross picks up the tempo with Steve in full on guitar hero mode here; his shredding solo is just superb. Fast paced crunchy rhythms, punkish Travis Barker-esque drumming and at times, Alice in Chains harmonies, combining to make an impactful rock song that sticks with you.
Having spoken with Steve upon receiving the advance review copy, he asked the question “Do we still rock?” You don’t need to get as far as track 4 to give you the answer. Yes, Steve! You do indeed still rock. With its thick, Audioslave riff backed by a monstrous rhythm section, Otherside is yet another fine slab of rock that grabs you by the balls and refuses to release its grip.
Take It Or Leave It increases the tempo once again and it’s here where I realise how good this record is. Despite being a three-piece, they fill the sonic spectrum without needlessly overplaying or padding out the tracks with any fluff. This track is a good example of how lean and muscular these songs are. Peace Of Mind opens with more narration about wanting to get home and expecting to die over the top of a quick drum beat before the arpeggiated guitar riff comes in to kick start the verse. Though the chorus has big power chords, this is the first “slower” song on the record. Once again Steve showcases his brilliance on lead guitar, tying the song together with his wah drenched solo.
Another mammoth riff bursts the speakers and we have Bring The Rain up next, a beast of a track that truly shows off the power that SKAM possess. Slightly distorted vocals with a bit of venom, a driving rhythm section, gorgeous harmonies, bags of melody and topped off with yet another awesome guitar solo. Lead single Fading Before The Sun sees Neal’s drums and Matt’s distorted bass take more of a centre stage, especially over the verses with the chugging guitar slightly buried in the mix before being brought back up for the anthemic chorus. The sharp guitar tones lend the song an aggressive feel, which comes across more, for me, after the final chorus when the boys are jamming out the end of the track.
Two Worlds has SKAM ramping up the heaviness factor musically whilst retaining their sense of hooks and melody that they’ve become known for. Containing a huge chorus that packs a punch, it wouldn’t sound out of place on a Foo Fighters record. Believe with its staccato verse riffs and vocal lines, offers us something a little different, but once again it is another powerful track that is relentless throughout.
I don’t want to say that Aching Hearts is the albums ballad moment because it would evoke a thought that isn’t a true reflection of the track, as it has a powerful groove backing it. A slow tempo, muscular song perhaps? There is a distinct Chili Peppers vibe throughout, beginning with a John Frusciante circa 1992 guitar riff through to the pure Chad Smith power of the drum beats. Whereas the songs preceding this felt a lot tighter, Aching Hearts feels a lot looser, allowing the band to play in and out of the space they create.
“It always seems impossible, until it’s done” – the final piece of narration on New Dawn, the closing track. Clean arpeggios play under the narrator before the driving, metallic guitar riff kicks in. The album finishes off with SKAM delivering yet another powerful assault on the senses and brings us to a very satisfying conclusion.
The band wanted to go old school with the recording process by recording as much of the album as possible in the same room together and that decision has absolutely paid off. Having seen SKAM play live a few times, I can attest to their on stage prowess. The chemistry that these three have is incredible and bringing all their gig experience into the studio to play “live” was by far, the correct choice.
The Amazing Memoirs of Geoffrey Goddard is an outstanding piece of work, expertly crafted with songs honed to perfection. As mentioned before, there is no need for unnecessary elements, you just need Steve, Matt and Neal doing what they do best – playing together! If you like big guitars, big choruses, plenty of hooks, groovy bass and powerful, yet, sublime drum work then look no further. Discounting the Prologue, as it is just a spoken word track, there are no filler songs on this album whatsoever. The Amazing Memoirs of Geoffrey Goddard is easily one of my favourite albums of the year. A solid, mature, muscular rock concept album!