Dale Barclay does not seem to be the sort of guy you want to invite over to your house for dinner. Barclay is the lead singer and guitarist with the British rock band the Amazing Snakeheads, and between the frequent bouts of antisocial and violent impulses that inform their lyrics on their debut album, Amphetamine Ballads, and the venom-spitting vehemence with which he delivers them, Barclay seems like the kind of guy who may just be playing with us, but then again he might not be. The Amazing Snakeheads follow the Birthday Party and the Gun Club in the bad hoodoo school of rock, constructed from equal parts shrieking guitars, swampy atmosphere, and bad karma, but while Nick Cave and Jeffrey Lee Pierce gave their personas enough depth of detail that they seemed three-dimensional if truly forbidding, with his thick brogue and growling delivery, Barclay appears more convincingly nuts, and his bandmates (William Coombe on bass and Jordon Hutchison on drums) bash out a simpler, less nuanced accompaniment for Barclay's lyrical psychodrama and barbed-wire guitar figures. Curiously, while Barclay himself manages to creep out listeners with these songs, the overall effect of the band is not as strong: the rhythm section is solid, but Barclay's guitar needs more support to turn his riffs into proper songs, and too many of these tracks feel undernourished, as if Barclay's theatrical bent has to compensate for the fact the material needs more flesh on its bones. Amphetamine Ballads is a debut that shows real promise, but if this band really wants to put the fear into the world, the first step on their reign of terror should be to hire a rhythm guitarist.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming