Heavy Water – Red Brick City: Album Review

Heavy Water – a Byford family gathering as they swing and swagger their way through Red Brick City.

Release date: 23rd July 2021

Label: Silver Lining Music

Format: digital / CD / LP

Heavy Metal families.

The Osbournes are maybe the most famous Rock and Roll family of all, but then you have Wolgang Van Halen joining his dad’s band, Cheap Trick have dad and son pairing and there are several others you can have a go at naming – think of it as a pub quiz.

Heavy Water was formed by legendary Saxon Yorkshireman/frontman Biff Byford and his son Seb and the father/son dynamic totally shines through the sound. To cap off this family affair, the packaging photos were taken by Steph Byford.

Now, some fans were a bit dismissive of the recent Saxon ‘tribute’/covers album. Heavy Water put things a bit straighter with their Led Zeppelin to the Beach Boys to Sound Garden influences shining through. Clearly a case of the baton passing from dad to lad. You know there was no way they were going to be listening to Postman Pat’s Greatest Hits on long car journeys.

The debut album  is the result of a lockdown 2020 project. Ten songs which bring you on an irrepressible raw blues-backed journey through their influences and invention. A journey which has you hooked from the first note. If those first twenty seconds are anything to go by, this should be a corker. That opening to Solution is straight out of Now That’s What I Call A Riff Vol 64.

Leaving Seb to carry the vocal mic, he proves a chip off the old block, with Biff probably revelling in the chance to add ‘bass player’ to his CV. There’s a muscley trimmed down confidence along with a relentless force that accompanies that classic opening riff. It’s a terrific start and fingers are crossed that they’ve not peaked too early.

Bursting with a swagger and high-octane gritty riffs, Revolution is cut from the same cloth and Medicine Man brims with the sort of high octane blues rock that you’d hear Rival Sons churning out. Clearly a case of the hard and heavy rock gene being passed dwon in the Byford DNA.

Red Brick City isn’t just a one trick pony though. The influences and inspirations kick in thick and fast. One moment you’re shaking your head to some good old fashioned, no nonsense hard rock and then the title track delivers a bluesy attitude. One that shifts into an angular riff that Soundgarden would be proud. In a change of mood, the chapel organ vibe and carefully picked guitar that kicks off Tree In The Wind. Lyrically, it evokes the trials of “sailing stormy seas” and to many ears, it will conjur visions of Joe Cocker singing his heart out

Follow This Moment provides a lighter interlude and amidst the hard rock bluster is an unexpected and surprisingly welcome moment with some sensitive harmonies. There’s even the trippy sentiment of “Live for this moments, follow your dreams” that provides the lyrical hook before a Supertramp-y sax glides in. It segues nicely into the easy cool blues on Now I’m Home (“and everything is ok“) and the crackling electric fizz on closing track Faith.
 With his own solo work – the tremendous School Of Hard Knocks album – Biff Byford has shown there’s more to life than Saxon. Heavy Water proves that, to churn out a fe wold cliches, there’s life in the old dog yet – talk of teaching new tricks and all that as he passes on the baton with an album that almost makes you grateful for the lockdown!

Here’s the video for the album’s title track:

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