This British five-piece, fronted by a man with the pirate-sounding name of Swaby, starts with a classic-R&B template from the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins school and decks it out with modern touches that borrow from garage rock, hip-hop and funk. The result is a bass-heavy riot of deep grooves and lo-fi touches on the band’s debut (+1 Records).
In fact, the bass is everywhere on “Great Vengeance & Furious Fire.” It hovers in the air like a huge inky cloud on the slow-burner “Doing Fine” and throbs on “Coleen” behind a sly guitar lick and wet, boxy drums.
Swaby croons as if he’s holding back a tidal wave of pent-up emotion, and letting just a little at a time slip through lest he unleash an unstoppable torrent of soul. Keyboard player Hannah Collins adds a startlingly sweet feminine touch with backing vocals on “Set Me Free,” while punchy horns and scratchy wah-wah guitar on “That Kind of Man” evoke some long-lost blaxploitation classic.
The Heavy shines best on stage, where the band is an overwhelming force, but “Great Vengeance” is an entrancing peek at crush-worthy musical raw power.