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Albums | Johnny The Boy - You



Tijd om nog eens iets meer extreem aan te pakken, dacht ik zo en dus nam ik me de tijd om zowel de nieuwe Thy Catafalque - ik was twee jaar geleden hard gevallen voor Vadak - als dit debuut van Johnny The Boy enkele luisterbeurten te geven. De keuze was niet simpel. Uiteindelijk intrigeerde me You toch een pak meer dan Alföld dat gisteren, eveneens via Season Of Mist, is uitgebracht.


Het was geen makkelijke rit. Ik heb het album zelfs even pogen van me af te schuiven. Het bleef me echter achtervolgen. Geen moeite heb ik met de zware, slepende songs die me meteen in een sombere, kille herfstsfeer brengen. Eerste single Crossings bv., of het voorafgaande Endlessly Senseless, twee songs die bij doom en sludge aanleunen, al zitten er razende passages in die eerder naar black metal lonken. Dat heeft ook te maken met de screams van Belinda natuurlijk. Weinig nuances in de vocals: ijzig snijdend all the way! Net hiermee had ik aanvankelijk moeite. Ik hou tegenwoordig wel van diverse stijlen unclean vocals, maar kan er pas echt van genieten wanneer die afgewisseld worden met cleane zang. Ik zie screams, growls, grunts,... vooral als accenten die op de juiste momenten gelegd worden en zo voor een ferme oplawaai zorgen. Niets van dit alles hier. Gevolg? Ergens in alle pijn die Johnny The Boy wil uitstralen, moet ik soms denken aan Gollum, dat ventje dat gewoon zo praat en dan hel ik naar weemoed, triestesse en ook wel wat comedy. Naast die aanhoudende pijn natuurlijk. He Moves en Without You laten een gelijkaardig geluid horen: fucking heavy en tergend traag met zo héél af en toe een momentje om op adem te komen.

Schrikken deed ik bij de tweede single Druh. Gaspedaal ingetrapt, de rock&roll van Motörhead gaat hand in hand met thrash (zonder die typische riffs) en de razernij van black metal. Ik hoopte van harte dat dit soort nummer beperkt zo blijven en de andere zouden overheersen. Niet helemaal dus. Ook Wired gaat oerend hard en is voor mij het minste nummer op You. Openingstrack Die Already doet het een ietsje 'rustiger', maar baadt in aggressie en kan ik meer smaken. Hoe meer ik ernaar luister, hoe lekkerder dat nummer wordt. Grime doet het tempo nog iets zakken terwijl de intensiteit blijft.


Voor mij was dit dus een groeiplaat, eentje met weinig nuances - al zijn die aanwezig in de details - maar toch net voldoende afwisseling. Het zijn vooral de rauwe emoties die me helemaal overtuigd hebben. Al hou ik niet van al te veel koude, ik blijk een echte herfst-/wintermens te zijn, seizoenen van extremen die onverwachts en in alle hevigheid toeslaan, de natuur die zijn gang gaat, los van de macht die wij mensen erover pogen te krijgen. Net als bij You krijg je al die zinloze pogingen als een boomerang in je gezicht gegooid. Keihard en onverbiddelijk!


Releasedatum: 9 juni 2023



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Brought together by a love of dark, twisted and extreme music and energised by an opportunity to return to the full-bore hostilities of their earlier creative years, Johnny The Boy‘s debut album You is the final proof that the best ideas cannot be stopped. A collaborative effort that brought the evil best out of everyone involved, it’s an album that has been stewed in real blood, sweat and tears. But mainly sweat.


“Justin starting working for me at a venue in our hometown, and there was a mention of doing something called World War,” says Crawford. “We went to our rehearsal room for two days. It was the hottest, most uncomfortable sweatiest room ever, and we were trying to write the coldest, bleakest music you could imagine! So it was horrific, but I think we got five tracks out of those two days. Me and Justin were together in Scunthorpe, and Belinda was working remotely in Sweden, and that was before it was cool!”


One of the songs from that initial batch of Johnny The Boy material was No Regrets: a caustic blast of blackened fury that was mischievously planted at the very end of Crippled Black Phoenix’s acclaimed 2022 full-length Banefyre, almost as a clandestine warning of the darkness to come.


“That was Justin’s idea. When we recorded Banefyre, he said, ‘Why not sneak in and record a Johnny The Boy track?’,” says Kordic. “We did that and No Regrets went on the album, and then Michael at Season Of Mist said he wanted a whole album from us.”


“Yeah, No Regrets played two roles at the same time,” says Greaves. “It was something pretty outlandish at the end of a CBP album, to give everyone a a kick in the bollocks, but it was also our way of saying, ‘We do this other thing, by the way!’”


Not just another “thing”, but an entirely box-fresh (but intrinsically rotten) means of expression,Johnny The Boy conjure a claustrophobic cyclone of serrated-edge riffs and bilious crescendos. Like the outer reaches of the Melvins’ back catalogue pumped backwards through a frosty, Bathory-fuelled prism, with marauding D-beats and moments of oppressive melancholy hurled in for extra impact, You offers a mesmerising blend of the familiar and the unknowable. From the imperious, doomy mantras of Endlessly Senseless to the all-out blitzkrieg of Wired, Johnny The Boy’s warped vision is heavy in every sense.


Meanwhile, bursting out from the abrasive, treacly maelstrom of riffs at all manner of bone-snapping angles, Belinda Kordic’s extraordinary screams and howls elevate every song to a higher level of primitive intensity.

“I truly think that Belinda’s vocals are some of the most more visceral, vicious and spiteful I’ve ever heard,” says Greaves. “I love the opening song, Die Already, it’s just a horrible song. I just love when Belinda’s singing ‘You prick!’ or whatever it is. She’s just spitting venom.”


“It’s all Belinda too,” adds Crawford. “It’s all natural. There’s no studio trickery!”


“When I was recording the vocals in Sweden, at the same studio where we recorded most of the vocals for Banefyre, the engineer asked me ‘Why do you sing like that?’” Kordic recalls. “I just said, ‘It’s instead of crying!’ That’s what I do. I let it out that way.”


In keeping with the rapacious, hateful noise that Johnny The Boy whip up, Kordic’s lyrics are also notable for their direct and destructive rhetoric. A collection of incensed diatribes, everything from the demagogue-baiting Die Already to the poetic grief of closer Without You resounds with gruelling emotional clarity. Eschewing the usual underground metal cliches in favour of harrowing, real world concerns, Johnny The Boy are lunging straight for humanity’s jugular (with a little feline representation thrown in for balance).


“The songs all have different meanings,” Kordic explains. “Die Already is about dictators. Crossings is about how no one should have to die alone. The last song (Without You) is about Tigger, our cat. Wired is about being really neurotic. Druh is about Witold Pilecki who was in the Polish resistance in the Second World War. He got caught on purpose, so that he could get into the concentration camp, so see how the prisoners were being treated. There he discovered what was going on with the Jews, the gypsies, the disabled, and he tried to tell the world. He was a real fucking hero.”


Fuelled by decades of devotion to the infernal musical arts, Johnny The Boy bring something unique and undeniable to the table. You screams its defiance and vitality from first to last, while a sense that Greaves, Kordic and Crawford are sharing an act of profound catharsis with the world is unmistakable. Soon, the band will expand into a full live unit, in order to inflict You’s brutal conflagration on the masses and in the flesh. Most importantly, You burns with a ferocity that simply can’t be faked. Equal parts magick, malice and metal therapy Johnny The Boy ignores the rules and burns the fucking house down.


“This is totally new and it’s exciting,” concludes Greaves. “Everything’s an experiment at this point. But we’re doing it because we needed to rediscover the reason why we all make music in the first place. After a long time in the industry, we’re all very jaded and cynical, but now I can’t wait for the first gigs and seeing all the metalheads’ faces when Belinda comes out and starts screaming. This is going to be fucking great.”


Recording Line-up:

Belinda - Vokillz

Justin Greaves - Guiterrorist & Drumbs

Matt Crawford - Bass Avalanche



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