I have to admit that I had never heard of these guys prior to this album and I had no idea what to expect when I pressed "play". My very first reaction was along the lines of, "Oh, they're another retro-NWOBHM band. Cool." The first couple tracks sound like they came right out of a Paul Dianno-era Maiden recording session, right down to the signature Fender bass sound and the snarling vocals. These dudes definitely know their way around a fretboard, but the NWOBHM label doesn't quite do them justice. I'm not a punk guy by any means, but when Bless Off kicks into overdrive and The Shrine launch into skater punk mode, it doesn't get much better. I'm seeing a lot of Black Flag comparisons, if that means anything to you. If you're not really into punk, you'll still find plenty of guitar solos and killer riffs throughout. Like I said, these dudes know how to jam.
Bless Off has an early 80's sound for sure, but it somehow doesn't sound or feel dated. It basically sounds like Steve Harris joined Fu Manchu and they wouldn't let him write any songs longer than 5 minutes and they all listened to Screaming For Vengeance while taking massive bong hits in an empty skate pool. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, I have some good news for you. Bless Off is now available worldwide and The Shrine is in the midst of a European tour that stretches into April. For more info on these SoCal degenerates, check out their Bandcamp page: http://theshrine.bandcamp.com/.