Far be it from me to rock and roll all night, and party every day (unless if by “party” you just mean “drink”). If I did, though, I’d probably do so to the tune of Märvel’s The Hills Have Eyes. This mini-album was originally released in 2015 by Killer Cobra, but is now on its way to be reissued by The Sign Records. Märvel plays a brand of hard rock whose fan base I can’t exactly visualize: it’s too organic, decent and old-school to appeal to proper hipsters, but also a little too soft to get the real metal heads banging. Unlikely as it may seem, there might be huge groups of people whom I haven’t met nor formed proper prejudices about, and all of them dig Märvel and bands like them.
The most striking thing about The Hills Have Eyes is that every track, and I do mean every track, is built around at least one top-shelf riff. From the whistled/acoustic magnificence that launches the title track, to the almost Judas Priest-like power chord heaviness of “LOVE Machine”, Märvel’s compositions are very much built around catchy, recognizable snippets of absolutely stunning quality. The song writing is also pretty much beyond reproach, only in “Goodbye Shalom” do the band stumble a little bit and sound somewhat directionless. That, however, is only in comparison to the other songs, during which there are virtually no boring parts.
To describe the style of Märvel properly, we’ll first have to list a bunch of classic bands. Nazareth at their more upbeat, and without a doubt Thin Lizzy, have probably spent some time on the these guys’ vinyl player (I can’t imagine them without a vinyl player). My first thoughts upon hearing the album, however, were of Phenomenon and Lights Out era U.F.O. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call any track on this mini-album equal to “Doctor, doctor”, there are several that come close, and the basic attitude to song writing and sound is very similar.
After dwelling in the 70’s in this manner, it should be stated for the record that Märvel has a fairly fresh and modern edge as well, and there is no obvious intentional retro-trip going on here. For one thing, at least some of the lyrics give a slightly more poetic impression than most old-school rock bands, and at times they are also edgier. There are even some hard swears thrown in, in a way that doesn’t even feel forced – check out the opening stanzas of “Bring it On” to see what I’m talking about. The production is also slightly more crisp than most 40+ year old albums could hope to be, even while it retains a suitably natural and live flavor.
If you are either one of those fans beyond stereotypes whom I don’t know, or just like me and like a good hard rock album when you hear it, you should go ahead and get a load of The Hills Have Eyes. The CD can be pre-ordered at Freight Train, while the digital download can be purchased already from The Sign Records’ Bandcamp page.