(All Album Reviews by Epilepticgibbon)
Not to be confused with the Righteous Fists of Harmony, who are another group entirely (or, for that matter, the original Righteous Harmony Society, a political society in China who staged the unsuccessful Boxer Rebellion towards the end of the 19th Century, and from which both musical projects presumably took their name), Fists of Righteous Harmony are an instrumental rock duo, a collaborative project between guitarist Steve Vaccariello, who provides all the guitars and bass on this self-titled debut album, and producer David Thomas, a rock and roll drummer who here provides all the sounds on the album that aren't guitar or bass (and also worked on the CD artwork).
Basically David combines production, mixing, arranging and adding digital drums, spoken-word samples and other elements, to help provide the album's overall atmosphere, texture and bigger sound, all of which really adds to Steve's easy-to-listen-to, foot-tapping, stellar rock guitar playing, without ever overwhelming it.
There are ten tracks on the album, all written by Steve and David, and all tracks are entirely instrumental, except for the occasional tasteful use of spoken-word samples. One might assume that this relatively low-key approach would make for a rather boring album, but there's a number of reasons why this is certainly not the case.
For a start, Steve and David are talented composers and every track on here is very different, but at the same time the album is consistently catchy, so you'll find yourself rocking along, or tapping your foot, or just digging the cool sounds of every track.
Another reason is that the tracks are all fairly short (there are only a couple of tracks over five minutes in length and then only just) and none of them are overlong or allowed to becoming boring. This shows a rare degree of parsimony in their composition, something that many other musicians (particularly those working in the instrumental and prog rock fields) could certainly learn from. This means that the album itself is quite short at around 37 minutes, but given that there are few CD albums over 45 minutes where every track could be considered essential it's refreshing to hear something that doesn't outstay its welcome, where every track adds to the overall listening experience, and never makes you want to reach for the skip button.
The final reason is the degree of eclecticism on the album, given the relatively limited range of instruments being used here. This is not a full band, and there are no keyboards, orchestras, or vocalists, but despite that the music draws on straightforward incendiary guitar rock, progressive rock, funk, rockabilly/Southern rock, and spacey, almost psychedelic rock. This is in part thanks to Steve's versatile and sophisticated guitar playing, but there's no doubt that David's arrangements and layers of additional sound are also a crucial part of this.
Who do Fists of Righteous Harmony sound like? Well, I don't think they sound like the following bands, as such, but elements of the FoRH sound will appeal to fans of Pink Floyd, Liquid Tension Experiment, maybe even Ozric Tentacles (but FoRH are much less spacey and dubby), or any great guitar-driven instrumental rock music for that matter. I would also say that if you like the British band Glow you'll probably love this, and vice versa: the two bands complement each other perfectly and, if they ever find themselves on the same continent, should definitely consider doing a gig or two together.
Anyway, this is an extremely entertaining album and FoRH are an excellent addition to the growing roster of great artists on The Lost Records of the World label.
Best tracks: “Free Fall”, “Module T-17”, “Vera”, “Red-Shift”, “Ultimatum”, “Gold Dust”.