With a provocative band name and hard-edged sound that owes much to both grunge and punk, Manchester three-piece The Virginmarys are a hard act to ignore once you’ve come across them. Their debut album “King of Conflict” is packed full of sludgy rock riffs and incisive lyrics, but the most noticeable thing about The Virginmarys is how catchy their sound is.
Right from the opening deluge of hard rocking tracks like Dead Man’s Shoes and Portrait of Red, The Virginmarys lay down a steady intensity which hardly lets up for the album’s entire duration. Each successive song races past with a chaotic punk energy that attempts to outdo the track before it. But beneath this wild release of energy is a highly composed structure that ensures that King of Conflict is far more than so much loud noise.
With their tightly constructed release of anger, the Virginmarys are reminiscent of Nirvana and Queens of the Stone Age, bands whose influences can be heard on tracks like Running for my Life and the bombastic Bang Bang Bang, one of the best tracks on the entire album with its anthemic chorus and insanely infectious guitar riffs. “King of Conflict” is packed full of little moments of colourful surprise, as The Virginmarys are clearly capable of taking their myriad of influences and combining into one coherent sound, a sound that quickly becomes evident as the band’s own.
In something of a nod to an age before digital, “King of Conflict” ends with a “hidden track”, a song buried after a period of silence on the final track Ends Don’t Mend. The combination of Ends Don’t Mend and the hidden track which follows see the band pushing themselves to the very limits of experimentation away from the hard rock sound they’ve established on the prior tracks on the album. Frontman Ally Dickaty seems to be pushing his vocal range right to its strained breaking point. The hidden track adopts a softer, stripped back sound allowing the album end on a slightly more tender note, showcasing the fact The Virginmarys’ songwriting abilities surpass a simple gift for loud catchy rock songs. Instead they are a band who are capable of crafting hard-edged rock songs that have a surprising level of emotional resonance buried within, something which comes out gradually the more you listen.