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Despite most of the world going ga-ga for most early heavy bands, Budgie were doomed to remain a rare bird, flittering around the outskirts and ever failing to find a solid audience to roost their weird wings on. But, as we should all know, does not mean that they weren’t producers of high metallic art, and for these ears, much of In For The Kill constitutes their finest work. See their debut was a truly thick bowl of chowder, bass-drenched and high in fuzz fiber, but the band’s sophomore and junior years were decidedly less consistent, although not without their individual charms (I mean, any album, Squawk specifically, that features a song that likens a woman’s sex appeal to being “Hot As A Docker’s Armpit” has got to be worth something, ya know?).
First off the wall of sonic black pudding that made the band’s self-titled ’71 debut so damn appealing makes a welcome return here, giving the title cut a three-dimensional feel. And wouldn’t it be just like these nuts to put a totally unexpected acoustic break right in the damn middle of an otherwise chugging metal vamp? More profoundly, the brief, almost off-handed mellow tracks that popped up like dinky mushrooms on the band’s earlier albums are done one better here by “Wondering What Everyone Knows,” a haunted and bizarre tune that further reveals the band’s depth and understanding of dynamic nuance. Oh, I guess I should point out here that the drums on this album are brought to us by the lead hands of Pete Boot, the band’s second drummer…there would be more.
The seriously doom paced “Hammer And Tongs” dominates the album’s flip side, and is a solid enough dish, but the real magic reserved for the similarly ambitious “Living On Your Own.” A standout in the band’s oeuvre, it’s not only impressive for the remarkable chemistry displayed between Borgue’s inventive guitar lines and Shelley’s sympathetic bass wielding, but also in how memorable and mature it’s structure is. This is prime Budgie: unique, skilled and timeless despite grand scale (it runs about 9 minutes in length, feels like 4 maximum!).
For those of you who have only heard rumors and suggestions as to the sounds Budgie evokes, please allow me to clarify. If you took Black Sabbath’s density, King Crimson’s peculiar song constructs, and added a dash of Rush’s overall style, you should get an idea of what’s going on here. I can’t stress enough, though, that although unsung, this band’s music is essential. If you don’t believe that they deserve a hallowed point in the foundation of metal’s great influences, you have only to understand that Metallica has covered the band twice on record (“Crash Course In Brain Surgery,” and “Breadfan”). If it’s good enough for Hetfield and company, it oughta be good enough for you, sprout.