"... an atom bomb drop of a surprise. The seriously twisted neo-blues of Solid Gold Hell keeps fabulously bad company with Nick Cave, Killdozer, the Beasts of Bourbon and the Jesus Lizard, but they carve up their bastard-heavy songs into great meaty chunks and then make them swing like a dinosaur's dick. Singer Glen Campbell (no, honestly!) is a pin-up of impossibly mean, disaffected cool, cocking his cigarette thus, growling from his very bowels and making his trombone squeal like a stuck pig. Solid Gold Hell, like, rock." Melody Maker, May 1996
Well it ain't pop music, never was meant to be. Solid Gold Hell are pure southern gothic, and their new mini-album The Blood & The Pity is a baroque trip to one scary musical nether region that befits the band's name. Like their live shows, it's a combination of travelling medicine and old-time bare-knuckle boxing show: a sound that threatens to take on all-comers and sell you something for your soul.... In the four years since this band crawled out of an unholy alliance between Flying Nun's SPUD and JPS Experience, Solid Gold Hell have taken on a string of challengers to the mantle of most out-there and fully rocking live group Auckland has to offer. They've also left former Sunday Star record reviewer Colin Hogg disgusted with their album Swingin' Hot Murder and taken the show on a couple of trips round the provinces and once over the Tasman to do battle with like-minded noise merchants like Kim Salmon & the Surrealists.
For those of us who have been watching (and our numbers are growing) Solid Gold Hell's music offers up one powerful revelation after another these days. Their live shows are a mixture of skewed musical precision and pure pathos - for every moment of sheer rocking exhilaration as rhythm section Gary Sullivan and Colleen Brennan duel with guitar maestro Matthew Heine, there's the sight and sound of singer Glen Lorne Campbell growling out a lungful of death-rattle over the mic. And the show finale, with Glen on trombone and Gary drumming with one hand and holding his trumpet in the other, while Colleen and Matthew play heads-down string-torture, is the kind of showbiz that sells snake oil to indians.
The Blood and the Pity hits the same way. Musically, Solid Gold Hell have never given us anything as good as "The Country Sow", a song that swings out like the arm of a punchdrunk Joe Louis. There's never been anything as hard-out as "Heavenly Badness" or riffery as dynamic as the mini-album's title track or "My Father Before Me" from this lot before either.
Lyrically, The Blood and the Pity stares up wild-eyed from the gutter, a string of characters hurling abuse at passersby and themselves. Take the protagonist in "Motel Hell" - "Did I kick yer dog and did I hate yer dress/I've got nobody to talk to and nobody to torment/So I just sway on my rocking chair". Moaned, screamed, and sometimes sung, these words evoke the kind of desperation that completes the dark world of Solid Gold hHell's music. This is music to put a little fear in your soul. And as the lady said, it also rocks. Beware.