Dunsmuir is a newish project combining the talents of Clutch front man Neil Fallon, drummer extraordinaire Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell, Dio, Kill Devil Hills, among many more), bassist Brad Davis (Fu Manchu and The Company Band) and guitarist Dave Bone (The Company Band).

The project has been in the works for several years with the debut self-titled album finally being released in July. Davis has described Dunsmuir as an ‘old school metal kind of thing’ and certainly the influence of ‘seventies metal and heavy rock runs deep here, and more particularly from classic English bands of the era. The Bats (are Hungry Tonight) which chugs along in the vein of early Judas Priest, and the slow burning What Manner of Bliss? recalling Dio-era ‘Sabbath are prime examples.

At times the album also reminds me of the last couple of Rollins Band albums, when Hank’s backing band was actually bluesy heavy rockers Mother Hubbard, in particular on Deceiver, while Orb of Empire and …And Madness wouldn’t sound out of place on a Clutch album.

There is no mistaking Fallon’s distinctive vocals but for me the highlight is Appice’s phenomenal drumming that really powers the album along. Fallon also weaves his usual weird magic with the song lyrics, with the album’s ten tracks all linked and telling the tales of a bunch of shipwreck survivors as they struggle to survive and battle to avoid the descent into madness. (For another fine album based on similar lyrical themes, albeit in a very different musical style, check out Cauldron Black Ram’s ‘Stalagmire’)

All up this is a cracking album (and capped off by some striking sleeve artwork) where the sum total is certainly greater than the considerable individual talents of the guys that made it. The album is available as a download at Dunsmuir’s bandcamp page at http://dunsmuir.bandcamp.com/ , or in its rightful vinyl format on Hall of Records. The latter is still available from the mighty Underground Records at http://www.undergroundrecords.com.au/ , or if you are lucky enough to live here in Adelaide you can call in to their store on the Parade at Norwood (open Wednesday to Saturday).

Taking in an album about parched shipwreck survivors is thirsty work indeed, and in my view there are few finer thirst quenching ales than Mismatch Brewing’s Extra Pale Ale. This beautifully executed beer is, according to the Mismatch website (www.mismatchbrewing.com.au ), ‘…a strong pale ale, with the booze at the higher end of a pale ale but lower end of an IPA.’ And that is pretty much on the money. The XPA is full of floral, fruity hop aromas and flavour but these are well balanced by the Medium Crystal and Marris Otter malts to give a medium, slightly bready mouth feel with a wonderfully clean and lingering, bitter finish. A refreshing and very moreish ale for the warmer weather, but just be mindful that at 5.8% ABV the XPA can still sneak up on you.

Head brewer Ewan Brewerton (I kid you not) aimed for and achieved a beer that recalls a classic English extra special bitter while still being loaded up with lots of new world hops in the style of US pale ales. So there you have an admittedly very tenuous bit of symmetry to justify drinking one or several Mismatch XPAs while listening to an album by a bunch of (very talented) Americans paying homage to some classic English heavy rock and metal.

Jimmy Mac