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Therapy? – Troublegum

Heavy Metal is a slightly outdated phrase, it throws up images of leather-clad, long haired bikers headbanging in sweaty bars. It seemed to be a genre that was killed off by irony and self-parody. Some of its lurking dinosaurs went the way of The Darkness and embraced the absurdity, others profiteered from teen angst and ended up torturously screaming over a backdrop of chugging guitars and spotty adolescence. The rest were probably killed off by Fred Durst. Anyhow, the demise of the genre from the mainstream was a sad end for a scene that produced beasts like Metallica and Guns N Roses. There’s no doubt that, when done right, Heavy Metal was very, very good.

Northern Ireland’s Therapy? were a band who did Heavy Metal the right way and their 1994 UK top 5 album Troublegum was as good as they got. Released in the halcyon rock months preceding Kurt Cobain’s suicide, the album produced a handful of top-20 singles, with flag-bearing track Screamager even being performed on Top Of The Pops. The band were a more commercial version of Metallica, creating an accessible blend of heavy riffs and growly vocals but with shorter, catchier songs (Lunacy Booth, with it’s sparring chorus, being a personal favourite).  

It’s a shame that the boys from Belfast never really kicked on from this release. Despite it being shortlisted for the (then fairly embryonic) Mercury Music Prize, fame and fortune failed to arrive. It is still however a cracking album, one that has stood the test of time well and one that perfectly soundtracks the controlled anger of commuting on the Underground. Plus it contains no screaming. Highly recommended.

by Harry Harland