The Socks – The Socks (Small Stone Records)

Four French guys calling themselves The Socks, doesn’t exactly scream “killer heavy metal” but this debut full-length is a pleasant surprise. The Socks are part of an exciting new globe-spanning group of bands inspired by early hard rock and heavy metal. Like the other top bands of this new movement (my faves are Kadavar and Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats), The Socks steadfastly ignore just about everything from the last 35 years and play metal like it was in the beginning: simply the next step in a natural evolutionary process that fused elements from garage rock, psychedelia, and progressive rock to make something evil, aggressive and new. Sure, sticking to the original formula comes with its downside, like dopey lyrics about dragons and evil gypsies and such, but those eye-rolling moments are made digestible by the band’s heightened musical abilities. Like their heroes Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and (especially) Black Sabbath these guys can actually swing, something of a lost art-form among heavy bands. There’s some slow doomy moments, some hazy psychedelic moments, and even some doomy psychedelic moments, like “Lords Of Illusion”, but for the most part they just rear back and “go for it” with aplomb and a pretty high success rate. Nowhere do they attack harder than “Some Kind Of Sorcery”, going from zero-to-60 in under one second and continuing to trample you like a herd of runaway elephants for the next four minutes. It’s the album’s greatest achievement and one of the best songs I’ve heard this year.