Sheffield, Steel City. Although you wouldn’t necessarily have known it at this year’s Tramlines festival, where there was relatively little metal, noise, punk or hard rock on offer across an otherwise fantastic event, something that extends across most non-genre-specific festivals. Take Glastonbury: pretty much every musical style is covered, but hardly anything that involves amps cranked up to eleven. Or even ten. The fact that Radio 1 is currently promoting a “celebration” of rock music rather than simply celebrating it occasionally the rest of the year shows how niche heavier music has become, especially when you consider that this week-long event mainly consists of Fearne fucking Cotton introducing bands like Biffy fucking Clyro (creators of this atrocity among others).
Fortunately this doesn’t put off bands like Steel Trees. Formed in a grim-sounding former pit village called Goldthorpe, they’ve crafted a sound that incorporates the tastiest cuts of stoner rock, grunge and metal. Previously known as Airburst, whose high-point came supporting Dinosaur Jr. (“we got a lot of responses saying we were better to watch”), their new incarnation relishes in combining the catchier, QOTSA-style side of stoner rock with the less heroin-soaked elements of grunge.
Their recently released debut album “Attack of the Stoner Zombie Killer Kids!” is the sound of three guys in deep lust with making enthusiastic noise and not giving a flying Fearne about prevalent musical fashions. Or indeed fashion at all. Asked what distinguishes them from most other bands gets the following response: “We don’t have endless lists of music industry contacts and we’re not Jimmy Page’s nephews on his stepdad’s side, We DON’T wear top branded ‘in’ clothes and we’re pretty darn ugly…we’re not your average student band with nice happy families feeding our mkat habits and pumping money into us. We’re the outcasts, the stoned, the mad and the ugly”.
If that doesn’t make you want to listen to them, what will? Well, maybe the brilliant video below, featuring some unfortunate smalltown boys (and Batman) being beaten up by local tracksuit-wearing twats? Maybe that the frantic “Wreck(ed)” is the best update of ‘Bleach’-era Nirvana in years? Maybe the way “What I Tell You” lurches from grizzled, gothed-up grunge to frenetic, screaming choruses without skipping a beat? Maybe the simple fact they have a song called “Awesome Welles”? As they rattle through the album like a fat child steaming its way through a box of fun-size Mars bars, your fist starts involuntarily clenching, then punching the air of its own accord. This, my friends, is why heavy music should be celebrated more than once a year.