JUNE ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Well, the gang at Off Yer Rocka have a pretty stellar track record at spotting new talent, and Ryders Creed are the next exciting rock debutants from the record label. Yet another bright rock band from the Midlands, this five piece formed only a year ago and in June they unleash one of the most polished classic rock albums of the year so far.
We’ve been on their case for some time. Their opening single ‘Headspace’ was a hit on the Friday rock show months before it was released as a single. We gave it a first spin back in January and listener reaction was immediate. So began a run of 14 consecutive weeks for the song. It’s already made our early shortlist for Song of the Year and now the band bags our Album of The Month for June. I have a feeling this is only the beginning.
In recent months there has been a fair bit of chat about a classic rock revival in the UK, which has been gathering natural momentum for the last two to three years. Some question whether the new generation of rising bands are classic or not – in my book, there’s room for everything. In the way new bands like Tax The Heat, Empyre and Little Brother Eli are examples of bands redefining guitar music – in look and sound – for a new era and a new generation, so Ryders Creed stand as a great example of a band that fully live and breathe a classic rock heritage but presented in a fresh, energised way. Throughout this album there are influences from the likes of AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Clutch and Monster Truck, yet the character, mood and production of this masterful debut album makes it feel very much rooted in the present.
The album opener ‘Headspace’ needs no introduction to our followers. It opens the album perfectly with lively, buoyant rhythms. It’s energising, arresting but above all – and not a common word used to describe rock songs – it’s interesting. The bass and drums detail on the song give it real bandwidth. The song feels ‘alive’ – and this isn’t down to production, its something more primal in the essence of a song and the way it’s played.
The second track, ‘Promise’, is more direct and urgent, definitely a more traditional stomping rocker with clear, classic influences. It’s probably an obvious choice for classic rock media, loaded with a crisp soaring vocal, a bit of guitar happy-hour action – and a built-in call and response chorus section that rock’s greatest frontman Freddie would probably have been proud of.
‘On The Road’ is next up and delivered at a more considered pace with rousing anthem choruses – a song you can imagine waking up audiences on the festival circuit – handy, given the band has a run of 11 festivals all booked in. The guitar work on this and other songs gave me flashback memories of those great Guns N Roses tracks I remember from my teens. Not in technical terms, just a mood thing: expressive and expansive and an ability to take a song to a new place.
‘Set You Free’ for me passes the 20 second rule and I’d tip this one for radio. Whilst ‘Ryder’ as been pushed as the follow up to ‘Headspace’, for me the crisp licks, strong catchy vocals, racing guitar solo and good melody of ‘Set You Free’ makes this a good contender for radio. Not the finest or deepest song on the album perhaps, but easy to register with a mainstream audience and almost impossible to dislike. This one will probably be our next feature track for the Friday rock show.
Approaching the midway point of the album, the vocal performances are starting to remind me a little bit of Paul Rodgers. Ryan is a completely different singer with a different style and range – but there’s a cleanness and a purity that – for me – drew comparisons. Like Rodgers, the vocals on this album sit above the music, like a crown.
For track five, we have the ‘B word’ – yes, it’s time for a nice ballad to bring the pace down a bit: Soulful versus here and a strong power rock chorus. In another era, this song could have quite comfortably have sat along the likes of Bon Jovi or Def Leppard as a top 40 singles chart ballad, the kind of track the rock community has always done the best. With the mainstream media world slowly waking up to rock once again, who knows where this track could one day end up.
‘Ryder’ is up next – another track we premiered on the Friday rockshow some weeks ago. Popular with the band and fans alike, this ticks all the boxes as a mainstream hard rock staple, straight down the middle. For me, the album tracks with more bandwidth showcase the band’s range of talents better, but there’s no faulting ‘Ryder’ for delivering a five-minute slice of up-tempo classic rock with real class and vitality.
‘Begging For More’ is more edgy and darker – and the album is better for it’s inclusion: A bit of anger, a bit of venom, yes a bit of rock grit.
‘Raise The Hoof’ kicks off the final charge of the album – and for the heavy classic rockers that still have their own hair, this is one for them to have a Timotei moment and and shake it all around! Anyone into a song that blended AC/DC, Diamond Head and a bit Paul Rodgers will love this one; it’s a three-minute tour de force. ‘My Life’ follows on from the previous track, with pace and attack – an absorbing hard rocker, lifted by soaring vocals and catchy choruses.
‘Rise’ closes the album and takes us back to the fresh mobile vibe of the opener, ‘Headspace’ – the two tracks bookend the album perfectly.
One thing I don’t mention much is album length. Sometimes with albums they are just too long. With this album, the length is just right. In this debut album Ryders Creed deliver 10 tracks done well. Very well. Every song adds something. There’s no filler or weak links. Essentially, there’s enough excitement here to grab attention and leave you wanting more. Which is exactly what a debut album should do!
For Great Music Stories, 2018 is looking like an interesting ‘chapter point’ year. The new rock scene has been around for some time and the breadth and range of emerging talent is, at times, staggering. A number of the bands we started following in 2015 and 2016 have since made major strides forward and going into 2018 we no longer see them as new bands. They are kind of becoming the role models for the next wave that are coming through. And boy, are they coming through. Since January, we’ve noted a lot of new bands landing great debut EPs and albums. Ryders Creed are at the forefront of that group – and like the new bands that went before them I think this band is going to go somewhere. The debut album is an emphatic statement of a band’s arrival, but what’s more interesting with Ryders Creed is what happens next. This is just the start of a journey and one we’ll be following.
Ryders Creed is released 1 June 2018 from Off Yer Rocka Recordings