In for Sin (Arclight)
by Brian Varney
Amplified Heat play the kind of high-energy boogie rock that immediately brings Cactus’s finest moments to mind. For those unfamiliar with Cactus, they were a band composed of incredibly talented players who had something really rare among players of such caliber: A willingness – some might even call it a desire – to play thundering, simple, dumb blues/boogie riffs with the force of a jackhammer. Though their lack of a songwriter ensured that they’d never rise much beyond obscurity, their version of “Parchman Farm” makes absolute dogmeat of Blue Cheer’s bludgeoning version.
Amplified Heat, like Cactus, can play the holy fuck out of their instruments, but don’t overplay. Because there’s an obvious affinity for blues music at its basest level, Amplified Heat are more about finding a hot riff and riding it over a simple 12-bar groove. What makes it special and differentiates it from the hoards of bozos playing the beer-commercial bunk that blues music has become is the fact that these guys play with the force of, well, Cactus, eradicating the detritus littering the modern blues landscape. So, yeah, it’s blues the same way Cactus or ZZ Top played it. Or if you need a modern example, the way Five Horse Johnson plays it.
This is the long way around saying that what Amplified Heat plays is not really blues music, it’s blues-rock that avoids all of the clichés that make blues rock such a horribly boring form. Throw a singer who spent a lot of time listening to Mudhoney records in front, and you’ve got a can o’ wallop that I can tell is probably ten times better live than on record. And I’m saying that as someone that really likes the record. Even the hidden bonus track, a cover of “Rumble,” is good, and hidden bonus tracks almost always suck. Worth keeping on hand in large quantities.