The self-titled debut album from The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock sees songs in the Irish folk tradition expanded into the realms of psych, prog and post rock, channelling amongst other things, the diverse yet kindred spirits of Lift to Experience, 16 Horsepower, Thin Lizzy and The Chieftains.
Shifting gears effortlessly from folk to drone atmospherics to full-on psychedelic rock, the band – Allen Blighe (vocals, guitar, banjo), Donnchadh Hoey (guitar), Enda Bates (bass) and Brian O’Higgins (drums) – have crafted a space-tinged Celtic sound that is hauntingly beautiful.
The album’s strong allegorical overtones bring to the surface themes of bitterness, disillusionment, national identity and loss of faith – set against a richly imaginative historical background on songs like “The Hare” and “Pimlico”.
Elsewhere, the centre piece tune “The Partisan” finds its musical inspiration from Macedonian folk while remembering partisans of Italian folklore; and on the album’s epic closing moment “The Ragged Rock”, a twisted, jagged version of Sean Nós evolves into a kraut-rock freak out, eventually descending into a feedback-soaked howl. A suitable ending to a dramatic journey.
"An album that combines vitality, bold vision and vivid imagination. Time to ditch those tired old Celtic-rock retreads. This is the real stuff." - Rock and Reel
"One of the best pieces of contemporary Irish rock music we’ve heard in an age" - Irish Times
"The best album I have heard from Ireland since Fionn Regan’s ‘The End Of History’ and like that masterpiece this a record that is exceptionally beautiful and inspired yet truly deeply disturbed." - Americana UK
"Haunted, rabble rousing folk" - Evening Herald
"The best tunes are wrapped in the kind of guitar blizzard mostly associated with Sixteen Horsepower or early Dirty Three" - Uncut
"Irish album of the year by a country mile (with hairpin bends every 15 yards), haunting doesn’t even begin to describe it." - MP3 Hugger
"Heart-pounding Pogues-esque moments, My Bloody Valentine’s fuzzy logic, indie guitar crescendos and Nick Cave’s solitary confinement rock…wonderful work." - State
"An album of intergalactic Irish-tinged post-rock and sacred and secular folk" - Pop Matters
"As vital and progressive an Irish traditional album as there has been in the past decade, overflowing with ideas and experimental in a manner that few have ever been brave enough or - crucially - talented enough to take on. Fusing elements of trad, folk, psychedelic and full-on rock, the band has succeeded in creating an album that almost perfectly captures the Ireland of today, which struggles to define itself, clutching desperately to its past even as it embraces a future that appears startlingly different. It is dark, it is challenging, it is teeming with innovation and guile, but most of all, it is a thing of utter beauty that borders on the visionary." - Irish Examiner USA