Girlschool are somewhat of a British institution these days and their name sits up there with the likes of Motorhead and Saxon, but back at the start of the band’s career, female rock bands for some reason weren’t taken seriously by many which is a great shame as the material Girlschool has put out has always firmly kicked ass and should have been seen as equal if not better than many of the male band’s output that was around at the time. The band formed in 1978 and their brand of hard riffing metal became part of the NWOBHM. Now 45 years on they have released a new album to celebrate. Those years have seen highs and lows in the band including the passing of their original singer and guitarist, Kelly Johnson in 2007 and the building of a loyal cult following that is still present today.

            The first track, `It Is What It Is’ carries the signature raw guitars and pounding beat that was present on their early material but what is different here is the fact that the band has grown up and matured musically so a chorus with a great hook now add a vibrant new spin to their sound. The rhythm parts on `Cold Dark Heart’ strut their stuff like a proud, groovy peacock demanding attention. This is a track that will definitely get heads banging as will the immense `Believing In You’.

            Those that know the band will know that Kim McAuliffe, Denise Dufort, Tracey Lamb, and Jackie Chambers like a bit of a laugh and so it comes as no surprise that that are a couple of tongue-in-cheek numbers to be found here. In particular, `Bump in the Night’ and `Up to no Good’ still kick hard but also bring out a humorous element too. `Party’ pulls out all the stops replete with a rousing chorus and lives up to the title of the song. On the flip side of the coin, the band take on a much more serious topic with `Invisible Killer’ which explores COVID whilst `It’s A Mess’ is a social commentary on what the human race is doing to the planet and ourselves.

            Another firm head-banging, fist-punching number is `Are You Ready’ which features American guitarist, Joe Stump and in a nod to their loyal fanbase, `Barmy Army’ is a riotous chanting anthem that would sit just as well on the football terraces as in the stand of a packed-out rock venue.

            We reach the final twelfth track of their 14th album and they go out in style. Ably assisted by Motörhead’s Phil Campbell, Saxon’s Biff Byford, and Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan, the girls tackle a cover of `Born To Raise Hell’ and turn this track into a rock n roll monster that loves to party!

            Throughout the album Kim McAuliffe’s vocal remains powerful and sassy, giving you no choice but to sit up and listen. Equally, the guitar parts by McAuliffe and Jackie Chambers smash their way through the mix but now have less of a punk edge that was present in the 80s and has more structure. Meanwhile, the powerhouse engine room of Denise Dufort and Tracey Lamb lay down a solid, immovable path of rhythm on every track. These girls have grown musically of the years and have applied their experience to this release which has resulted in an album that maintains the roots of their sound whilst adding a fresh twist that makes this new material sparkle.

School may be out for summer, but Girlschool is determined to make its mark and party like no other!




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Review: Paul Sabin


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Tracking Listing:

It Is What It Is
Cold Dark Heart
Bump In The Night
Barmy Army
Invisible Killer
Believing In You
It’s A Mess
Into The Night
Are You Ready? (feat. Joe Stump)
Up To No Good
Born To Raise Hell (feat. Biff Byford, Phil Campbell & Duff McKagan)

Girlschool are:
Kim McAuliffe – guitar/vocals
Denise Dufort – drums
Jackie Chambers – guitar/backing vocals
Tracey Lamb – bass

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