Bat Fangs shows its teeth with debut album
Carlos De Loera | Tuesday, February 27, 2018
As a fan of hard-hitting rock music, I often hear that rock is either dead or dying. Marilyn Manson once sang, “Rock is deader than dead,” but I refuse to accept this. It is not dying or dead, it just has a new face: women. Rock has long been known as a (white) boys’ club, so naturally people are hesitant to accept that the face of the genre is changing. I get it, change is hard; but also, hey, don’t be so sexist, yeah? With acts like Ex Hex, Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail, St. Vincent, Charly Bliss and Margaret Glaspy, just to name of few, there are plenty of female rock acts that have real chops. Bat Fangs can now easily be thrown into this category. With a sound that feels like a mix of the musicality of The Darkness (Re: “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”), Dio/Heaven & Hell and Judas Priest with the vocal work of the Haim sisters, Bat Fangs’ nine-song debut album is 25 minutes of slick guitar licks and thunderous solos.
Band members guitarist/bassist/vocalist Betsy Wright and drummer Laura King come from other successful acts; Wright comes from Ex Hex, King from Flesh Wounds. The duo formed after Ex Hex, with whom Wright played bass, went on hiatus. During this break, Wright decided she wanted to play guitar and write songs that were thematically darker than those she wrote with Ex Hex. Meanwhile, King was on a break from Flesh Wounds. And thank God they found each other.
The standout track of the album is “Bad Astrology,” which at 3:16 in length is the second longest song on the album. The song opens up with a simple but heavy riff, a basic backbeat and lyrics that incorporate the classical cryptic imagery of early heavy rock, “with a skull and crossbones / darkening that door / there was a wicked messenger / on the night that I was born.” By the second verse, Wright adds a second layer to her guitar work, creating a dueling guitar sound that intensifies the build to the chorus. The real highlight of this song lies in the solo that Wright belts out toward the end of the song. It is the type of guitar shredding that would make both Tony Iommi and Zakk Wylde proud.
Bat Fangs is more than just an homage to early hard rock, though. The opening track, “Turn It Up,” comes across as a more glammed-up version of their style, sounding similar to “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” and Motley Crue or Poison. Songs like “Wolfbite” and “Heartbeat” exhibit more of a “riot grrrl” sound mixed with garage rock and surf punk. Their ability to play around with a couple different genres makes for a varied and concise listening experience, making the album easy to play on repeat. If you have half an hour, give it a listen; I’m sure you won’t regret it. If you listen closely, you might be able to hear rock’s heartbeat.
Artist: Bat Fangs
Album: “Bat Fangs”
Label: Don Giovanni
Favorite Track: “Bad Astrology”
If you like: Ex Hex, Superchunk, Sheer Mag, The Darkness
Shamrocks: 4 out of 5