Masters of Ancestry: A Review of Bus’ The Unknown Secretary

Sometimes it feels good to just rock and roll. And four-piece retro rockers Bus, hailing from Athens, Greece, know how to feel good. They released their debut album back in March of this year, criminally slipping through the cracks in my internet perusing for exciting new bands. I’m pretty sure I’m falling deep in love with the retro sound, since recent releases like Mammothwing’s Morning Light, Causa Sui’s Return to Sky and this record make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. But unlike the slow, droning blues and ethereal stoner prog of the former two albums I just mentioned, The Unknown Secretary is all about simple analog rock power and catchiness.

Bus doesn’t hide any of their inspirations. I hear the old, raw power of late 70s hard rock and early 80s metal all over this thing. So if you’re looking for something brand new, this wouldn’t be the place to look. But for fans of albums such as Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell, Iron Maiden’s Killers and Deep Purple’s In Rock, this album will whizz you back to the days of leather jackets, smoking grass in the school courtyard and beach keg parties that originate from blaring muscle car stereo speakers. The production is cracked and crisp, purveying the retro feel beautifully. The songs are relatively straight-forward fist-pumpers and dirge anthems that stem from the charred fantasy realm of Uriah Heep album cover domains. The album is a perfect 44 minute vinyl length and nothing in the mix stands out too loudly from the off-the-floor feel of the playing.

Opener “Fallen” kicks things off with a bang, offering a good dose of what to expect on the rest of the album. But it isn’t until second song “Masteroid” comes galloping in that Bus burns the fire of their occult passions and expert sense of hook. It’s as much of a doobie song as a heavy metal sermon, conjuring up arrowhead tail demons and horned ladies dancing in cages. And this classic rock vision of darkness continues throughout the rest of the album, with very little deviation from their mission to be melodic, wicked and even a little sexy. That being said, there’s still a sense of purpose in the way these songs are arranged. Structure and sound become slightly more open and grandiose as the album unfolds.

The listener gets pulled into deeper, heavier dejections in “Don’t Fear Your Demon.”  Then a ray of light pierces the ponderous storm clouds during the intro of “Rockerbus” and leads the listener into this epic song’s arena rock ecstasy. Then it’s time to rise and bring the party to the gods. “Over the Hills” stomps like stabs of lightning before the appropriately titled instrumental “Jimi” slams us back into the earth again with its romping blues and sassy attitude.

Bus isn’t even trying to be a band that treads its own path, and for any of us who enjoy a well-executed slab of retro metal played with heart and light-hearted devil worshipping splendor, that’s just what the doctor ordered. Throw this baby on at a party, blast it loud down the highway and make it your soundtrack to the next unlawful thing you’re a part of. Being an avid music listener doesn’t always mean you lie there with your headphones like a fucking bore. Jump a goddamn fence and drink whiskey sitting against a gravestone after dark.

For more from Bus, find them on Facebook.

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