Peterborough 5-piece Austin Gold released their debut album Before Dark Clouds in 2017, gathering a couple of newcomer awards and securing a main stage spot at 2019’s Ramblin’ Man Fair along the way. Unfortunately, progress towards their second album has been stymied six tracks in by the departure of guitarist Jack Cable, leaving the rest of the guys to decide whether to find an emergency replacement, continue as a 4-piece, or find some other way forward. Fortunately, releases are not as rigidly formatted as they used to be, and the question of how long an album should be can be safely set aside. Hence the guys have taken the decision to release the existing recordings as a 6-track mini-album, available only on vinyl or as a download. Thus, the release of the new self-named mini album Austin Gold, featuring Cable’s final work with the band, should keep the fans happy while the Austins search for a replacement and start the recording process again from scratch. The decision has not yet been taken on whether to include this material with any future CD release; much depends on how the re-vamped band shapes up, but for now, the Cambridgeshire hard rockers can be proud of a storming collection of new songs, showcasing their traditional, lo-fi rock along with some crunching riffs.

The collection opens with the second (and current) single from this set, We Are Lightning, featuring deep sub-bass and grungy guitars, conspiring to be both melodic and heavy as hell. Lead single Caught On You follows, with its lazy mid-tempo AC/DC riff, slow, laconic solos and high vocals. Interestingly constructed backings are part of the game here, with third track Starlight introduced by a two-piece guitar backline, taking turns from opposite sides of the stereo mix, backing an up-tempo, more pop-rock melody line with a definite Foo Fighters flavour.

You Got It All starts with a naïve, twangy guitar line, quickly overtaken by the trademark metal-heavy grunge, with the backing groove swapping seamlessly between guitar and bass as the vocals come in. This is the highlight of the set for me, and the heaviest track so far, in patches at least.

The retro, lo-fi sensibilities of the band are laid on the line with fifth track Here To Stay, which starts completely mono, as if recorded on a budget 1970s tape recorder, before the whole band seeps in over the top and brings the song to life. A bluesy guitar line and some lazy, acoustic-textured drums introduce final track Lifelines, just to add a bit of variety to the mix, but I think it’s fair to say that there isn’t a dud track anywhere. Eager to see how the sound holds up in the future, but on the basis of this outing, I’d say the prognosis is good.

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