If you were an advocate for Woking being a vibrant cultural metropolis, it may be understandable to warrant a raised eyebrow or two. While the community of Woking is certainly a explosion of diversity in the best sense of the term, visually, half the town is caked in rubble due to a massive scale rejuvenation project currently ongoing. Yes, while this Surrey terminal serves as the spiritual home of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, (perhaps fitting because of the reconstruction), the headquarters of the World Wildlife Foundation, and has been the birthplace of many of this country’s contemporary cultural heroes, it doesn’t quite have the looks to match its significance and contribution to the arts… yet. Aesthetics aside, Woking musically has given us national treasures like The Jam and Status Quo, and is responsible for recent trailblazers like Palm Reader and Employed To Serve. That said, the notion of tearing everything down and buiding it up stronger, bigger and better, suits fellow Woking noise merchants Gutlocker, and their gargantuanly proportioned cover of Jamiroquai’s Deeper Underground lifted from the Godzilla soundtrack of 1998. After all, this is a band that wrote a song about Woking called Welcome To Fucktown.
Leading in with heavy bass tones and the rings of guitar distortion, it sets the ominous tone of the original perfectly, nailing the synth’s foreboding ambience, and injecting their own sense of dread. Those cymbal taps underneath too twist the screws of tension to come. We don’t quite get the grandiose orchestra-esque notes before the first verse, as much as controlled chord rips to conclude the introduction go, but when frontman Craig McBrearty projects his beginning almighty scream, it serves the catalyst for a rip-roaring thrill ride. The famous groove that helped catapult Jay Kay and crew to the top of the UK charts is faithfully recreated, but undeniably grittier and oozing machismo that surpasses the crystal clean, subdued production of its progenitor. A subtle, impressive improvement is the volley of machine-gun style bass kicks that accompany this groove also, driving that sheer raw energy into a speeding freight train human might has no hope of stopping.
Delivered at an increased velocity, the soulful melody that once was is eviscerated with piercing shrieks still enunciating fantastically at speed, arguably with a faster flow that could embarrass many of hip-hop’s finest, which transforms into this formidable bark hurtling into the chorus, exhibiting strengths in Craig’s vocal abilities that are eye-opening to say the least. And the overall tone of that chorus couldn’t be further from the original’s minimal funk, sharing more in common with trying to survive the playground of a Leatherface or Jigsaw Killer-type onslaught; intense, crazed, and frightening. Fearing moments where it could slip into campy aggression, Gutlocker keep the bulldozer in high gear, leading to an endlessly satisfying solo bassline, the quieter spoken word beneath somehow unnervingly more sinister than the imposing screams already experienced, left to grind away the glimpse of an escape before certain doom encroaches on us all. Doom it certainly becomes, in which slowing the chorus groove down invokes the spirit of Sabbath, yet the climax teters more on the side of a forceful pummeling, than chatting with the Grim Reefer.
If a record label sat down with Randy Blythe and Dimebag Darrell to ask them to tackle famous soundtracks from the late 90’s, this could’ve been the result. Gutlocker’s take on Deeper Underground is inspired, befitting of their energetic, often seismic presence, and at the expense of some brawn, amp up the atmosphere to morph a record-selling series of catchy hooks, into a horror fetishist’s album collection. Side by side, their frankly hilarious music video with Outright Resistance’s Michael ‘Grandad’ Worsley stealing the show as… uh… Godzilla, shows that there is humanity and humor in their craft, no matter how dark or deep into the abyss of the soul Gutlocker are willing to dive inside.
Deeper Underground is out now on your favourite streaming services and all respectable music retailers. Their previous EP Cry Havoc! and all of their merchandise can be obtained via their Bandcamp. Gutlocker are stalwarts of the UK metal scene and tour regularly so keep an eye closely on their social media for upcoming dates, or bring them to you if you’re that way inclined.
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