Friday, November 04, 2011

FDF Volume 3 Issue 246: Heretix - Gods and Gangsters

By: March

Album – Gods & Gangsters
Artist - Heretix
Key Players – Marvin Huffman – drums, percussion. Eric Hill – Bass. Brian Hill – guitar, vocals (lead vocals on “Fire Inside”). Ray Lemieux – lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Produced By – Ed Stasium (5 tracks produced by Ross Humphrey)

Release Date – June 15, 1990

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I am not sure many outside of New England have ever even heard of them.

Overview – Boston band Heretix blended a bountiful pop/rock sensibility. At times heavy, at times soothing always melodic. The band would be well known in the Boston area winning awards for albums, live shows and many “best” categories (Best male vocalist for example). The band would be signed to major label but the times were changing and the band was dropped.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The ten song, just shy of 40 minute album opens with the title track “Gods and Gangsters”. A big bass and drum hits right out. The band settles back and Lemieux comes in. He has a deep and strong voice. (When I refer to the Hills I'll use first names). Brian offers some good backing vocals whole Eric and drummer Huffman keep everything in check. The overall sound of the band is similar to the rock that was on the radio at the time. Just that touch of heavy with big hooks. Huffman breaks things down and they toss some vocal effect on Lemieux as Eric and Brian fire notes back and forth. The song keeps a pretty consistent verse/chorus/verse feel. Brian starts off “Climb to Begin” on his own. Huffman rumbles in and Eric joins with the rumble of his bass. Lemieux is a little more laid back on the first verse. The acoustic guitar seems to be a little higher in the mix on the verse. The track has a good deep riff at times that will reach out to grab the listener and find them reaching for their “air guitar”. Huffman sets the tone as “Simple Wish” begins quickly Eric and Brian join. They run through a few bars before settling back a little and the vocals begin. Lemieux is a little laid back, but still very strong. Brian gets a quick guitar solo and the band seems to let him go with it. It is not flashy or too long before Lemieux comes back to the chorus. The shortest track on the album comes in “Up and Running”. Takes a little to get rolling but the Hills seem to have a lot of fun with Eric having a particular rumble to his bass. Huffman really pushes this forward and you can actually hear the smile on Lemieux's face as he sings. Just a fun, rocking tune. Lemieux plays the acoustic a the start of “My Head” and after a few bars Huffman wants to get things rolling and the rest of the guys agree. As the verse is started it gets hushed and Lemieux doesn't seem to have a set of lyrics are the start, he does get to the words making sense and your feet will be tapping along before you know it. The song has a very rock-a-billy feel and they seem to tease “Aint that a Shame” as well, but they don't go all the way there. If the band had a “radio single” from the record it came in the track “Heart Attack”. The band is a little subdued on the track, but it has that big rock vibe with soaring chorus and the switch of strummed acoustic guitars to big guitars. Huffman seems to keep everyone from taking off and manhandles the tom-toms as the chorus approaches. The backing vocals are well timed as well, just on parts of the chorus. One of the most underrated songs of all time in my humble opinion. Eric gets to stand on his own for a moment at the start of “Insomnia” as Huffman joins. Brian rings a few choppy guitar lines over and the vocals begin. Eric is high in the mix for a lot of song, as a bass player I enjoy that touch. Brian Hill takes the lead vocals on “Fire Inside”. Eric plucks a few short notes and Huffman seems to hit everything on his drum kit once, but not too hard..just working his way around the drum kit. Brian does an amicable job, but he also seems to be comfortable with his abilities. “Turning Around” finds Brian buzzing on his guitar with Huffman and Eric offering up choppy fills before Lemieux starts to sing. The track has Brian doing a solo earlier and the band seems to be okay with the change up. The backing vocals are strong again. The album concludes with the track “Waste of Skin”. Brian comes out of the gate and Huffman finds a steady, calming beat. It is a more laid back track that still contains the elements of what makes the band, and Lemieux so strong. Good harmonies, tight playing and a big sound at all the right times.

Where are they now? - There appears to be no facebook, myspace or even unofficial band page. If any band member, or friend of the band, has any info drop a comment and I'll be glad to update. One person I think is a match is Ray, and it appears he is in the real estate business now.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I only saw the band live one time. It was April 17, 1992 at “Nightstage” in Cambridge MA. The support band was Letters to Cleo that night and I recall the night well, as a friend of mine turned 21 that night. He had fun, we all had fun.

FDF Overall Take – I read one review that compared them a little to bands like Candlebox and Collective Soul. In a sense I see it, both those bands had heavy riff based tracks on the radio, which Heretix does here. Ray Lemieux is a terrific vocalist and that sets them above the aforementioned bands. If you see this in the cut out bin, and like early 90's rock you'd be VERY much at home. The track “Heart Attack” alone is worth the cost of a download.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!
Wow, I can't even find a clip from this record on line. I'll need to work on this...

Out of print, but you can find copies here.


At 9:15 AM, Anonymous BBS said...

Ray and I think Brian (it may have been Eric) worked with me at Spit/Axis in 87-88. Last I heard Ray was one of the owners and I believe the chef of the Linwood Grill in Boston. But that closed in about mid 2007

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My head!

Heretix, Cliffs of Doneen & Tribe where the scene in boston 1990

It's a shame about Ray!

At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

but you're the good guy



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