Articles / Reviews

The Sound - From The Lions Mouth review (Whisperin' and Hollerin')

date: May 14, 2001


 

THE SOUND - FROM THE LION'S MOUTH
(WARNER/RENASCENT U.K.)

For their second album, THE SOUND followed in label mates ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN’s footsteps, trekking down to Rockfield Studios in rural Monmouth to record with Hugh Jones, a hard taskmaster producer still very much in demand today. The resulting album, "From The Lion’s Mouth" was housed in a lavish gatefold sleeve featuring Briton Riviere’s painting "DANIEL IN THE LION’S DEN" from Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. The Scouse associations stop dead there, though, as this second album only consolidated "Jeopardy"s declaration that THE SOUND were a formidable quartet, well capable of operating outside spurious Press-based "scenes." Actually, your correspondent seems to recall press enthusiasm was beginning to wane a little by this time (a typically vitriolic rebuke from previous supporter Dave McCullough in "SOUNDS" springs to mind), but – viewed outside the claustrophobic confines of changing fashions – "From The Lion’s Mouth" is both a strong follow up to the illustrious "Jeopardy" and simply a fine album in its’ own right. Admittedly, it’s a bigger, wide screen update of THE SOUND’s debut. The urgency (musically and lyrically) remains and, if anything, has intensified, but the songs largely rely less on full-frontal aggression and lean more on atmosphere and room to breathe. Perhaps significantly, the two songs here written while Bi Biltoo was still in the band – "Skeletons" and "The Fire" – are the most upfront on offer.

Nonetheless, musically you can barely spot the join between Biltoo’s departure and the arrival of new recruit Max Mayers, whose textures make their presence felt, but are never intrusive, especially on the new breed of slow-burning songs like the vulnerable "Fatal Flaw" and the 24-carat classic "Silent Air", still one of the most affecting things Adrian ever wrote in this humble scribe’s opinion. Which isn’t to say THE SOUND had lost their edge. Indeed, "From The Lion’s Mouth" positively reeks of dissatisfaction and raging against the dying of the light. Just check the crescendo killing "Possession" stone dead; or the victory snatched from the jaws of defeat message driving "Winning"; or the way Borland pleads "it hurts me, it hurts me!" during "Sense Of Purpose." Spine chillers all maybe, but bristling with defiance and positivity. Actually, the only time the album loses its’ momentum is via its’ final track, "New Dark Age", where, despite some relevant existential angst, the deafening clatter of kettle drums and general inability to get to the point render it toothless. There again, it’s far better than the object of derision Dave McCullough attempted to cast it as in that "SOUNDS" review, when he accuses Borland of plagiarising Mark. E. Smith, presumably because of THE FALL’s "Second Dark Age". Hmm. Bit tenuous if you ask me. But that’s all for the four winds of history. Instead, concentrate afresh on "From The Lion’s Mouth", THE SOUND’s second staggeringly good album that’s been gathering dust away from the public eye for far too long already.

2001 - TIM PEACOCK - Whisperin' & Hollerin'



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