Album Review: Rose Kemp

Rose Kemp – ‘Unholy Majesty’ (One Little Indian)

The worlds of folk and metal might at first seem to be widely different ones, but really, they’re not at all. In the early seventies, when the three great pioneers of metal Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and the mighty Led Zeppelin all had roots that influenced what they were doing. Purple owed a fair bit to classical, which was why they sounded so goaddamn prog, Sabbath had started out as a Jazz band (listen to ‘War Pigs’ or ‘Fairies Wear Boots’) and Led Zeppelin drew not only on the blues
but also on folk. Indeed Zep frontman Robert Plant has continued to investigate a great deal of what is lazily called ‘World’ subsequently as well.

Amongst their contemporaries at the time in Britain pioneering ‘folk-rock’ (being folk-influenced it was a very British form and different to what Americans produced) two bands stood out: Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. Rose Kemp’s parents Maddy Prior and Rick Kemp were both in the latter, and the influence is there for all to hear.

I mention the backgrounds, both musical and familial of Rose Kemp, not to do her down in anyway, but because here is an artist who really does draw on her roots and a wide range of influences and produces something hugely special. So often press releases not only include a lot of waffle but try and make the band sound more interesting when all you hear is the same tired old riffs recycled again and again. When Rose Kemp says she takes influences as diverse as Kate Bush and drone artists like Earth and Om, she means it.

Right from the opening track ‘Dirt Glow’ the purity of the voice strikes you. While so many fronting a rock record feel the urge to sound as if they gargel with gravel, Kemp sings naturally. The violin of Sue Lord also adds something very special to this album.

I haven’t seen her live yet, but by God, I want to. This album yields more and more with every listen. This is not a conventional metal nor folk album, instead it messes with pigeonholes and remains accessible.


Rose Kemp -‘Nanny’s World.’ mp3

Unholy Majesty is out on September 29 on One Little Indian.

Rose Kemp’s myspace

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