There’s a couple of songs here that sum up Michigan’s filthy, oil soaked four piece Against The Grain just perfectly. There are 12 songs on “Cheated Death” the third of which, “Sacrifice” is played so fast and loud that Lemmy and the chaps might have knocked on the studio door to ask them to turn it down, had they been recording next door. It’s first line “rock n roll warriors, lightning in the sky” should be – if it isn’t already – on the back of their T-Shirts.
Then they follow this up with “No Sleep” which likes this idea so much it does it all again. Except it doesn’t. Halfway through it morphs itself, very cleverly and without you really noticing, into a blues song.
That said, let’s be honest, it’s still greasy and you’d probably still hide the good china if these boys came to tea, but the differences in those two songs do prove that this is not just some one dimensional band that has heard “No Sleep Till Hammersmith” and a couple of Hellacopters records and thinks they know rock n roll.
Against The Grain kick it off like they wanted to be around at the beginnings of thrash, with the title track firing riffs and lyrics in equal measure by way of an opener,” “Smoke” has a desert like groove, but would kick Kyuss’ ass in the sandpit, as the wonderful guitar solo proves, and so it goes.
This is just four men playing the music they love with their influences on their denim patch clad sleeves. “Last Chance” is like a turbo charged Saxon song, but does it with real skill and fabulous harmonies and “Devils And Angels” is almost like a ballad – except you can’t imagine ATG doing anything introspective, so lets say it has a hint or two of Led Zep instead, shall we?
As it moves through the gears, there’s a dollop of sleaze in the shape of “High Heeled Woman” but if early Motley were too fast for love, then Against The Grain don’t care for such niceties and as such are much more gritty and earthy, while “Rolling Stone” is the product of never ending nights on tour in a rancid van and is the thunderous sound of the last gang in town.
“Enough’s Not Enough” is more than just a wonderful example of what they can do, it is the sound of a band who still dream, who still believe and have no little ability, given that they effortlessly turn this effectively into three songs in one.
But this is rock n roll, and as such “Going Down Fast” is happy to satisfy every primal urge you’ve ever possessed, “Jaded And Faded” is an 85 second punk rock thrasher that The Wildhearts might have done as a b-side in the mid-90s and the cheerful early Maiden-isms of “Into The Light” are absolute proof that Against The Grain are gonna get ya. Somehow, someway.
Touring with everyone from Vallient Thorr, to Atomic Bitchwax, to Nashville Pussy via Church Of Misery, you could bet that Against The Grain have fitted in with them all too. But if their natural habitat is still – probably – on stage. “Cheated Death” is the sound of coming of age.