1968 – Ballads of the Godless
Release Date: 06/07/2018
Running Time: 38:24
Review by Alun Jones
Sometimes, without warning, it all comes flooding back and I’m thrust into the nightmare of that jungle. Thirty days on patrol with no chopper cover. The heat, unbearable; sweat running in rivers down my spine. Cradling my M16 like a good luck charm, praying under my breath that there ain’t no VC gonna unload a torrent of lead at me and my buddies. Trudging on, hour after hour, waiting to get back to the LZ for evac. Chukka-chukka-chukka, the Hueys overhead and the rush of wind from the blades.
Maybe these guys from 1968 were in Nam too. Maybe this debut album, “Ballads of the Godless” is actually a lost relic from those days that’s just been unearthed. Maybe 1968 invented heavy, psychedelic rock after hearing Hendrix and Cream and some of those old blues guys. Certainly seems crazy enough to be true.
Opening with “Devilswine”, 1968 lay out their ground plan confidently. It’s a mighty power groove that makes your head nod, setting the tone for the whole album. “Screaming Sun” follows and adds a more psychedelic shine, Jimi Coppack’s vocals soaring while the riffs hammer. “Temple of the Acid Wolf” adds further intricate detail, with shades of vintage Soundgarden. 1968 set about laying waste to all in its sights like Ozzy manning the Air Cav machine gun on a strafing run.
It’s not all Ride of the Valkyries mayhem however. Last track on Side 1 (vinyl lovers!), “S.J.D.” is an instrumental that provides a more reflective tone. Acoustic guitar and piano feature, in a stylistically fine salute to the classics of the genre.
This bleeds nicely into Side 2, track 1 – “Chemtrail Blues”, where guitarist Sam Orr gets chance to unleash Hendrixian guitar flourishes over a bluesy beat. It’s like that time me and my buddy chewed acid in a fox hole while under fire. The rocket traces in the sky lit up like God’s neon veins.
“McQueen” opens with some infectious bass, before melting out of a mellow vibe and into a crushing chorus. The bottom end is nice and heavy throughout, The Bear delivering pummelling yet warm playing.
Rhythms are also tight and show a groove more contagious than jungle malaria. Dan Amati on drums shines on “The Hunted” in particular. Final track “Mother of God” brings on a deceptively laid back, acid dripping feel as we finally get some R’n’R in Saigon.
“Ballads of the Godless” reveals more and more depth, thought and intricacy with each listen. On this first album, the band make good on a lifetime studying from the past masters. My only question is how will 1968 continue to evolve and add to their sound? I can’t wait to find out.
For now, it’s back to reality. No more choppers overhead, cries in the jungle and that oppressive, relentless heat. Until I spin “Ballads of the Godless” again…
02. Screaming Sun
03. Temple Of The Acidwolf
05. Chemtrail Blues
07. The Hunted
08. Mother Of God
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