Junkyard Lipstick is a band that has worked hard to get to where they are now. They persevered through a line-up change last year and are now sounding tighter than ever live. Hellbent is the debut album from the thrash-punk quartet.
Junkyard Lipstick’s sound combines thrash metal, punk rock and a hint of power metal in the vocal style with the thrash influences adding technicality to the simpler punk elements. Guitarists Louise Gorman and Tanya Markowitsch (also on vocals) provide solid, catchy riffs and well-executed solos. The riffs from the tracks “Hellbent”, “Daisy” and “Rosie” remained firmly lodged in my head after listening to the album and stayed there after a couple of days. One of the most memorable solos belongs to “Rosie” as well (as you can tell, that track is one of my album highlights). Drummer Lucinda Viljoen puts in some interesting fills, with “Bus For Us” containing a great drum solo. The bass guitar is mixed well, allowing a good appreciation of bassist Jacky Roodt’s skills.
The song construction doesn’t always stick to the usual thrash metal characteristics either. The songs “Flush” and “Barbie” have a more progressive feel; these tracks take time to set the scene. Fast pace is balanced by slower interludes throughout the album, which kept me engaged.
Junkyard Lipstick’s lyrics deal mostly with South African themes, from the story of South Africa’s first noted serial killer, Daisy de Melker (“Daisy”), to social unrest (“War”). The lyrics also deal with serious themes like presidential incompetence and the case of child abuser ‘Advocate Barbie’ deftly – a balance is struck between maintaining the gravity of the themes while still creating an entertaining song. There were some lighter moments in between the serious lyrics; I found myself laughing out loud during songs like “Reality TV” and “Hollywood Hustler”.
Tanya Markowitsch is equally competent on the guitar as she is on vocals, with a strong vocal delivery. Her range is impressive – she handles the thrash semi-growl as well as she handles high notes. The vocals sounded somewhat muffled at times, but this may have been due to my sound system.
Hellbent is both a reminder of grim realities and a feel-good album to put on when you need cheering up. Overall, the production quality is very good, and I believe that the band has set themselves a high standard to follow on subsequent releases.
Stream “War” off Hellbent below: