At their best, on the nineties-styled arena rock of No Friend of Mine, Melbourne’s Shotgun Mistress sound like they might indeed be in line for a pop at the title. Superbly produced, this is hard rock as it should sound in 2021, with one foot proudly rooted in the past but forward looking enough to suggest that a rosy future awaits.

The rest of the material isn’t quite as spine-tingling, but, when guitarist Matt Wilcock fires up the low slung, snaked hipped riffs on tracks like Collide in tandem with the pleasingly gritty vocals of Glenn Patrick it’s easy to forget the woes of the world for at least a few minutes… and that has to be a result in these trying times in anyone’s book.

Willcock made his name flaming eardrums in bands like Akercocke and The Berzerker, fine bands and no mistake, but you’d have been hard pressed to find a cowbell on any of their recorded output, so his display here at completely the opposite end of the heavy music spectrum is revelatory, at least to a relative outsider like me. And talking of cowbell, drummer ‘Diamond’ David Lee deploys them with a smirking aplomb throughout as part of a superior technique that really swings on sweaty club anthems like Natural Disaster yet never forgets the bombast that true hard rock requires to keep the motor running. He’s got all the bases covered, and his flourish is underpinned in tightly cohesive fashion by Ben Curnow, who wields what Blacky Lawless used to refer to as the ‘four string motherfucker’ in rock solid fashion.

The later part of the album flags a little, save for the raucous no-holds-barred rock n’roll of Grave Mistake, which features some of Willcock’s best work on the entire album solo wise, and overall the record feels a little bloated at thirteen tracks; If they’d stopped at ten, this might well have found itself being hailed as without question on of the debut albums of the year. But, that aside, the fact remains that all four members acquit themselves superbly in terms of performance throughout, and there are enough song writing moments on Shotgun Mistress to suggest that is, indeed, is a band with a big future ahead of it. A very big future, in fact.

Shotgun Mistress releases on July 16th.