Monday, March 7, 2016

Berndon Kirksaether and the Twang Bar Kings – The Voodoo Sessions, Live at Down Under | Album Review

Berndon Kirksaether & the Twang Bar Kings – The Voodoo Sessions, Live at Down Under

Roller Records

4 tracks / 20:49

I do not get very many blues albums to review out of Norway, but the few that have made it to my desk have been very good. One of these is the latest disc from Berndon Kirksaether & the Twang Bar Kings, The Voodoo Sessions - Live at Down Under. This EP is their fourth release, and it is a healthy dose of burning and moody blues-rock.

Three members of this group are from CIA, a solid blues band that hit the Norwegian scene in the early 1990s. On The Voodoo Sessions Live at Down Under you will find Berndon Kirksaether and Erik Gabrielsen on guitar, Stein Tumert on bass, and Roy Hanssen behind the drum kit; everybody gets credit for vocals on this effort.

This four song EP was recorded live at Down Under in Mjondalen, Norway and it includes three originals and one awesome cover tune. It is apparent that these guys are fans of 60s and 70s AOR swampy blues-rock, and this sound seems to be working for them. You will hear a bit of this when the band kicks off this set with “Mama Roll Over” which builds slowly into a powerfully dark anthem. The sound is very clear for a live album and it is mixed well so that none of the instruments are buried. The vocals are throaty and the lyrics are in English with no trace of an accent, in case you were wondering – they are from Norway, you know…

Next up is another original, “Some Kind of Voodoo,” which is six minutes of psychedelic fun. Berndon and Erik are able to coax synth-like sounds from their highly processed guitars, and there are neat vocal harmonies in play here. Hanssen shows great restraint and lays back on the drums throughout, mostly hitting the toms and adding cymbals in as needed for effect.

When looking for songs to cover, it is hard to go wrong with Robin Trower, so “Mad House” is a pretty good choice for the number three spot. This is one hell of a jam that lets all four members cut loose, and it is nice to hear Hanssen and Tumert go a little crazy. This is the standout track from the disc, and at 3 ½ minutes my only gripe is that it is not long enough!

Closing out the CD is “When the Moon is on the Rise” which gets even more out there in the guitar sounds department with tons of reverb added in. Hanssen keeps a steady beat on the high-hat which helps to create a tremendous sense of tension throughout as it sounds like the band will explode at any moment, though they never do. This song would have fit in well on any of The Doors’ albums, which is good thing in my book.

The Voodoo Sessions Live at Down Under is a fun release from Berndon Kirksaether & the Twang Bar Kings and it is good to hear what they can do live. We can only hope that they make it over to the states soon so we can hear them in person!

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