After ten years of EPs and building a fierce reputation for themselves as a live act, Warrnambool four piece Cockfight Shootout have finally released their debut album, Asleep In Exile. Beset by challenges and issues such as lineup changes and record companies going belly up, it has been a long road for the band to get to this point.

Kicking off with “Grey”, the album develops a solid sense of idenitiy and momentum, but unfortunately never completely takes off. The main problem it seems, and it hurts this scribe to say this about a band that is such a strong act on a live front, is that the album lacks balls and that ability to pin the listener to the wall like Cockfight’s shows are legendary for doing so.

Also, something that really hurts the album is the uneasy releation between the pop and heavier elements of the band’s sounds. By trying to reach a compromise between the two styles that the band encompasses, Asleep In Exile is, unfortunately, neither fish nor fowl as a result. If only the band had the conviction to either totally embrace the pop element of their music or turn up the feedback big time, Black Sabbath style, this could have been an absoulte pearler of a debut.

However, the album does feature some gems, such as the snotty (in the best way possible) “Named And Shamed” and the highlight of the album, the stunning “You’re Dead, Let’s Disco.” It frustrates the listener in that it makes one wish the rest of the album had been of the calibre of this track.

This debut from the boys is definitely no embarrassment. However, after ten years together, one expected just a little bit more from their debut long player. Also, the Nirvana/Queens Of The Stone Age influences that the band love so much are all too apparent on this release and, at times, skate dangerously close to plagarism and do come off as incredibly deriviative. Which is a shame for a band with such a strong live presence on stage.

Hopefully, this is only a starting point for one of the better bands this country has produced in the past few years.

-Neil Evans.