Pterodactyls have a problem… they are extinct! However, Pterodactyl Problems the band, are anything but and they prove this with a massively energetic album neatly entitled Esoteric Hobbies. Hailing from Toronto they originally formed in 2012, released an eponymous album, then went on a brief hiatus, until reforming in 2017 to write and record this mad (in a good way) mix of genres covering punk, metal, rock and a little bit of opera for good measure. Made up of Davey White on vocals (who seems to favour leather mini-skirts, if I am interpreting the publicity shots correctly!), on guitar Jack Neila, bass Ciarán Neely and Oliver Salathiel on drums.
It all kicks off with ‘Parathesia’, which rocks from the first raw bass notes and drum. The guitars join in with a jaunty, heavy riff and the vocals, with laid back punk sensibilities but with harmonies that lift it into a melodic, varied and entertaining track replete with twin guitars helping it all out. Imagine Sabbath playing the Kinks via the Clash and throw in a damn good solo and you’re there.
‘Protest’ is less structured with semi-spoken vocals over a Metallica-like riff, but still draws you in. ‘Heavy’ starts with gentle strummed chords and melodic vocals suggesting, contrary to the title, that a ballad awaits… and so it proves, even when the bass and drums come in it remains as a quality piece of soft rock with a lilt (particularly from the tasty bass lines) and if the semi-acoustic had given us a solo it would have been even better. ‘Constellations’ is another quiet(ish) one with bass and drums occasionally going ape and the whole thing turns out as though they had the spirit of Syd Barrett in the studio when they wrote it… weird in a good way. ‘Heroes Killers’ is my pick with its Sabbath riff and tempo changes that give it an identity of its own. There then follows a number of much quieter, and enjoyable tracks, wrapping up at track thirteen with ‘Pictures’. This is another quiet track led by piano and acoustic but half way though bursts into heavy, riffing life and is a great ending to an eclectic album.
This is difficult to categorise with such diversity throughout; but it is actually better for that… if you want to be saturated by heavy metal, this probably isn’t for you but, if want an album of quality rock of many hues, this is actually pretty damn good.