The company that Lionize find themselves among couldn’t be more diverse if it tried. After all, this is a band who, on the one hand, have taken support slots with Clutch and Bad Brains, but also The Wailers and Steel Pulse. It’s a diverse mix, sure, but then again Lionize are a diverse band.
‘Nuclear Soul’ wastes no time in showing that either. Within the first three tracks they’re already playing around with elongated stabs of organ, wailing, funked-up bass licks and pensive acoustic passages. On paper, it makes little sense, but in practice…it also makes little sense. But there is at least some kind of method to their madness. The initial groundwork at least remains solid, with foundations in driving, old-school blues-rock with their various eccentricities laid over it. This keeps ‘Power Grid Blues’ and ‘March Of The Clones’ from fully flying off the handle.
That said, there’s a distinct feeling that Lionize find themselves a lot more impressive than they actually are. Sure, Nate Bergman’s soulful howl is as taut and powerful as it needs to be, but beyond this, ‘Nuclear Soul’ can at times feel extremely self-indulgent. The blues riffing starts to feel stale after a while, be that with tracks that don’t have the firepower they clearly need like the title track, or when the band strip themselves down to very basic ideals on ‘Let You Down’. Some decent bass grooves peppered around can make up for quite a lot, but ‘Nuclear Soul’ really begins to lose its luster after a while.
In a way though, that’s to be expected. Lionize are shooting far beyond the parameters of a “classic rock” band, and in doing so, there’s bound to be some pitfalls along the way that they unfortunately fall victim to. Overall ‘Nuclear Soul’ does do a lot impressively, even with its numerous inconsistencies, and the fact that it is so unlike anything else remains its most emphatic saving grace.
‘Nuclear Soul’ by Lionize is out released on 8th September on The End Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)