Bad Blood, the debut EP by Melbourne garage fuzz hounds River Of Snakes, is like one of those mixed lolly bags you pick up at the Royal Melbourne Show. Its treasures are scant, a handful of sweet confectionary that gives you an instant sugar rush when you wolf down while handling a baby goat at the petting zoo. It just keeps you wanting more.
Each little morsel has its own distinctive flavour. ?I Want You Back? is a power pop nugget that could have come straight from the golden era of Australian punk. It’s the best song Radio Birdman never wrote, with its dodgem car guitars, rollicking drum fills and half-sung, half-shouted chorus. A short, sweet cuff around the ears and then it’s straight into the brooding title track, built around a chunky bass riff and a Rowland S Howard-esque guitar line.
Guitarist Raul Sanchez yelps his lungs out like he’s exorcising some particularly nasty demons, before launching straight into ?Smashin The Beat?. The parochial references to kids from Werribee and Hoppers Crossing are cute, and the riff chugs along like a V-Line limited express train cutting through the western basalt plains.
Things come to a head with ?The Harsh Light Of Day?, which nods its shaggy head to the kind of mighty noise-outs Magic Dirt used to tuck away at the end of their albums. Of course this is perfectly acceptable, seeing that Sanchez served a lengthy tenure as guitarist in Geelong’s greatest export. From a plodding grunge opening, the song bursts into a metallic K.O. mid-section, before accelerating to a screaming finale.
Yes, it’s all over too soon. Yes, each song is completely different to its companions. Yes, it is but a tantalizing taster of what River Of Snakes deliver live, but it serves the band well, as you just want to play it again and again. Dante on drums and Elissa on bass (no surnames, please) are a powerhouse rhythm section, who leave plenty of room for Raul’s pyrotechnics. Everything is up-front on this EP, which is exactly where it belongs.
River Of Snakes are the perfect flipside to Adalita’s [post-Magic Dirt career](/releases/2000841). Where she has gone deep inside herself to dredge up emotionally charged laments, ?smashin? the beat? pretty much sums up Raul’s approach. Of course, this tendency was already evident in his other group Midnight Woolf, with its ?60s garage punk leanings, but as frontman, he sounds perfectly at home in this band.