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The Guts of Metal
on January 31, 2009
Budgie were a Welsh trio consisting of bassist/vocalist Burke Shelly, guitarist Tony Bourge, and drummer Ray Phillips. And the music they make is easily some of the best heavy metal/hard rock ever put to tape. Produced by Black Sabbath producer Roger Bain, the band's first album released in 1971 is one of their top works, the first in a line of highly inspired and truly rocking classic records that influenced everyone from Van Halen, Judas Priest to Iron Maiden, Soungarden, Metallica to all the slow/stoner metal of the 90s. Opening up with Guts, a molten heavy riff and steady pace might instantly reveal Sabbath influences and for that matter, most of Budgie's sound does that. It's without a doubt, Budgie are the missing 4th godfather of metal, alongside Sabbath, Zeppelin, and Deep Purple. Sabbath were the most stripped down of the three, but Budgie might actually be even more raw and "underground". In 1971 this sound was so abrasive and heavy, like some of their respected peers Sabbath this sound was so ahead of it's time, it's hard for future generations to grasp it. Of course now, the "retro" 70s sound is celebrated in heavy metal and when many current bands play this type of throwback rock it it's always given the critical nod. Musically, Bourge's thick and crunch guitars are all over the place and Burke Shelley's bass is tremendous, covering a lot of midsection grooves. This is really it here, the beginning of heavy metal, Guts is a savage track that just like Sabbath's debut was way ahead of it's time. Even though Breadfan is hailed as the band's best song because it implied the evolution of speed metal, Guts downtuned bass/guitar sound is one of the heaviest songs of all time and it might even be the band's best.
One of the bands trademarks was incorporating brief acoustic folk pieces in their albums, usually 2 per record. They are a little under developed on this debut, here they serve their purpose to balance the pace out where as on the 2nd album and following they became just as memorable as the rockers. Everything In My Heart is only about a minute long and it's an adequate way for the band to ease you in with the slow building proggy opening of The Author, before blasting it into a full blown epic rocker. Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman is another classic. 8 and a half minutes of multiple rocking sections which might remind you of How Many More Times from Zep, and definitely inspired thrash of the 80s with all its changes. Rape Of The Locks packs a nice punch along with All Night Petrol. These songs cook and have a nice dirty unpolished sound, in other words, this is how heavy metal is supposed to sound. The band returns to the 2nd acoustic breath catcher this time the more melodic You And I before jetting into Homicidal Suicidal, the closing rocker and another key Budgie cut that wraps things up with a monstrous ending that was later covered by Soundgarden.
This album marked the beginning of a great career of groundbreaking ear shattering rock music and the band would further refine the formula over the course of the next 8 years in a string of all must hear early metal diamonds. The debut is a little dated in comparison to their other albums but if you're looking for a good rare band you haven't heard yet, Budgie are one of the best. They easily deserved the fame and fortune Sabbath and Zeppelin have received. Their music is right on par with such. Whether youre after some great rock music, or heavy metal, or interested in hard rock's formative years, Budgie's early 70's albums offer an excellent lesson on how its done. They are purely essential.