Bush released its 6x Platinum in the US debut album Sixteen Stone in 1994 and it was the beginning of a commercially fruitful journey for the band. Fronted by Gavin Rossdale, who is the only original member of the band, Bush found success in the US first in the midst of the Seattle grunge scene. Their second album Razorblade Suitcase, released in 1996, gave Bush their first proper taste of international fame spawning hits such as Swallowed, Greedy Fly and Bone Driven. The band has continued on in various formations since then taking a break in 2002 and reforming in 2010.
Bush’s last album was 2017’s Black and White Rainbows, which arrived during Rossdale’s brief stint as a coach on The Voice UK. The album received a mixed reception and it didn’t fare too well on the charts either. Three years on from that, after a brief delay thanks to the pandemic, Bush is back with eighth album The Kingdom. The set features Bullet Holes, a track that was included in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and hinted at a heavier direction for the band moving forward.
The Kingdom contains many of the elements that Bush fans fell in love with back in the 90s but there’s no denying the music here is heavier than what you might be used to. The single Flowers on a Grave kicks off the record with crashing guitars and a driving riff that introduces Rossdale’s distinctive vocals. It’s big, it’s bold, it grabs your attention and it does exactly what an album opener should do. In many ways the song marries the traditional Bush sound with the harder, angrier sound that permeates throughout the record.
Title track, The Kingdom, is one of the strongest moments here. A call-to-arms during difficult times, The Kingdom is a song that was made to be played to a stadium of fans, which sadly isn’t going to be happening for the foreseeable. The urgency of the instrumentation and the nuance of the production ensures that the song continues to build from start to finish. It’s an adrenaline rush and it’s one of the best songs Bush has ever recorded.
The strength of this album is its consistency. The Kingdom doesn’t lag at any point. The energy is high from beginning to end, and there’s plenty to dig into on repeat listens. Ghosts in the Machine shimmers with the confident swagger that’s always been integral to Bush, the storming Blood River is powerful with plenty of dark imagery, and Send in the Clowns has one of the strongest choruses on the record.
Standouts, other than the title track, include the balls-to-the-wall nu-metal tinged Quicksand, the gentler 5-minute epic Undone which allows Rossdale’s voice to really shine, and the punchy Crossroads, which is destined to become a live favourite when the band can get back out on the road. Album closer Falling Away picks the tempo back up, ending the record on a high note.
Bush may have been making music together again since 2010 but this is the first album in the last decade that’s really showcased what they can do. The Kingdom is a pure rush of a record with plenty of highlights and lots of repeat value. Bush has always been underappreciated here in the UK but they’re back on form and creating some of the most interesting, and diverse, music in the rock genre right now. The Kingdom should see the band’s popularity soar again and it’s one hell of an addictive record.
Track listing: 1. Flowers on a Grave 2. The Kingdom 3. Bullet Holes 4. Ghosts in the Machine 5. Blood River 6. Quicksand 7. Send in the Clowns 8. Undone 9. Our Time Will Come 10. Crossroads 11. Words Are Not Impediments 12. Falling Away Record label: BMG Release date: 17th July 2020 Buy The Kingdom