Thermal and a Quarter’s new album A World Gone Mad is their eighth studio collection and the single “Leaders of Men” promises this new album ranks among the band’s best. The Bangalore, India headquartered quartet has traveled the world, playing numerous global locales, and opened shows for bands like Jethro Tull and Guns ‘n’ Roses. I am quite taken with the complete Western sound of this band – having never heard them before, I’d expect to hear a stronger Indian influence in their work, but you’ll be on fool’s errand searching for some buried sitar in the mix. Thermal and a Quarter are a dyed in the wool rock band with a strong blues influence coming through this recording.

It announces itself in the lead guitar packing the bulk of the tune on its shoulders. Tony Das has a tasty touch with his guitar playing that never risks excess while being completely steeped in the blues idiom. “Leaders of Men” isn’t a blues track, it has far too much simmering attitude for that, but Thermal and a Quarter incorporate the sound of that style into the composition without ever veering off course. The rhythm section of drummer Rajeev Rajagopal and bassist Leslie Charles provide able support during the song without ever risking overplaying and Rajagopal, in particular, achieves a swing in his drumming that makes the track even more potent for listeners.

The lyrics contain plenty of bile for its subject, but the band never lays it out in a crass or overly obvious fashion. The same artful touch defining their musical identity readily transfers over to their lyrical content as well and the individual lines possess a sculpted quality akin to the muscular musical qualities running through the track. There’s an abiding intelligence, as well, presiding over the lyric that separates their work from the vast majority of their contemporaries and peers.

Bruce Lee Mani’s vocal has a distanced aspect, but a closer listen reveals Mani engaged with the words in a way few vocalists attempt. It’s a study in restrained anger – you get the sense, throughout the length of the song, that Mani is holding back his full throated rage at these “leaders of men” who presuppose to know what is best for the affairs of humanity and the language the band adopts bears little to no resemblance to what we hear from similar acts. Thermal and a Quarter have their own unique perspective on the subject.

A World Gone Mad, based on this track alone, promises to be quite a work, It is my opinion that Thermal and a Quarter are working at or near the peak of their powers rather than marking time; this song doesn’t feel like a band coasting, but rather reaching for new territory, particularly in the lyrical realm. “Leaders of Men” packs quite a wallop for listeners, in its own understated fashion, and invites multiple listens. This is one of the best singles I’ve heard yet in 2020, regardless of genre, and shows this band is far from standing pat.

Sebastian Cole

The music of THERMAL AND QUARTER has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division.  Learn more