DIRTY THRILLS – Heavy Living

In my last “Frontiers review”, I talked about the label’s (former) predictable and narrow thinking when it comes to signing bands. AOR and melodic rock were what the label was all about and that was that. Well, with the album in question, Wayward Sons’ Ghosts Of Yet To Come, it sure looked like the label was rethinking that way of thinking. Progressive metal and power metal had been slipping through the AOR filter at the label’s HQ and with the Wayward Sons, classic, raunchy and attitude driven hard rock was getting its way into the labels stable of bands, something I think feels refreshing. So, if Wayward Sons were a ‘thinking outside of the box’ band, it’s nothing compared to what British rockers Dirty Thrills are. With this band, Frontiers have gone one step further and signed a retro act, a band that apparently have been oblivious to that hard rock albums have been released after 1978 and if my memory serves me right – please notice that I could be very wrong here – it’s the first time a stripped and raw hard rock band with its feet in the early to mid seventies like this have been signed to Frontiers.

Dirty Thrills is a four-piece from London, UK, fronted by lead singer Louis James, the son of ex- Moody Blues singer Nicky James. The other members are Jack Fawdry (guitars), Aaron Plows (bass) and Steve Corrigan (drums). The band started out in 2013 – apparently they formed after a drunken jam night in a quiet village pub in Wiltshire – and they released their debut full-length self-titled debut album in 2014. An E.P., Growing Young, was released the year before. The band set out to bring thjeir 70’s rock into the open and the press release tell me that Rival Sons, Queens of The Stone Age and The Black Keys are bands similar to Dirty Thrills in sound. But the same press release also says: “For fans of Whitesnake, Inglorious, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Rival Sons and Deep Purple” which is enough to make this guy interested, something the band’s pretty lame name would never have done, alone.

First single/video “I’ll Be With You” kicks off the album and it hits like a ton of bricks. Rough, raunchy and raw 70’s based hard rock with a mean groove and a distinct melody attacks mercilessly. The Led Zep feel is all over the track but mostly it sounds like the Rival Sons meets Black Country Communion. Yes, I’ve heard this stuff before many times, but the it’s a great song so I just don’t care about trifle things like that. Fat rocker “Go Slow” follows and here we’re treated with a late 60’s / early 70’s sound with big echoes of Zep, Free and Cream. It’s ballsy, heavy, groovy – and it rocks like Hell. The album’s second teaser “Law Man” is up next and this rough grooved and heavy rocker that comes with a dark feel but it still swings like crazy. Kicking and screaming, the tune has a huge Rival Sons vibe, so big it’s almost a clone. But it’s a damn good song anyway.

“Hanging Around” is mid-paced, blues-laden hard rock with a vocal melody that sounds so much like Rival Sons it actually could be them. The bad-ass solo break takes us back to the late 60’s and again, I think of Cream here. But it’s a good song with a groove that makes it impossible to stand still.”Lonely Soul” is a slow, stripped and atmospheric blues ballad. I do quite like the tune, but on the other hand, it’s predictable and it feels like I have heard this a million times before. But “No Resolve” cures the little mishap of the blues ballad. This slow, dirty, raw little bluesy hard rock number tags along with a fat groove and even though the Zep vibe is present, I draw parallels to Inglorious more than Rival Sons here. It’s a tune that will kill live, I’m sure. Great stuff. “Interlude” is just that, an interlude, no more no less so let’s move on. The hard and edgy “The Brave” is both aggressive and heavy and it screams early 70’s blues drenched hard rock. The Led Zep influence is very prominent here and singer James gives his best Robert Plant impression. Not very original but damn good.

Latest single “Rabbit Hole” comes along in a slower pace but yet with a good groove. It’s a dark and heavy tune but the chorus is actually very catchy. I love the song but it sounds so much like Rival Sons that it’s scary. “Drunk Words” is a slow blues-rock groover with a big edge and a rhythmic beat. It’s raw and stripped but has a melody that sticks like glue – a very dynamic and authentic tune. Great stuff! Closing track “Let Loose” is an upbeat classic rock stomper that swings like a motherf**ker and sports a great party vibe. Again, Rival Sons is all over the tune but I just can’t dismiss it as just another clone – it’s too damn brilliant for that.

Judging only by the quality of the songs, this is a damn great classic rock-blues-hard rock album with a raw production that sounds like if the guys have been in the same room, playing live and recording the album analogously just like in the 70’s. It also gives an impression of the songs being done in the first take. But this is also a band that wear their musical influences on their sleeves and normally, I don’t mind that one bit. But in this case, it’s often very obvious. Too obvious. Sure, the Zep, Cream and the 70’s influences aren’t something to make a fuss about but then we have the Rival Sons thing. It’s an issue because the whole album has got Rival Sons written all over it. At times, they sound so much alike them it’s almost as they have found unreleased Rival Sons material and recorded it. I hate to say it but they are dangerously close to being clones. I can’t slag this album off because I dig the songs too much but the way I see it, they’re in need of an identity, they need to sound more like Dirty Thrills and less like their influences. That said, I would still recommend the album to fans of retro 70’s blues based, groovy hard rock.

6/10

Tracklist:

1. I’ll Be With You
2. Go Slow
3. Law Man
4. Hanging Around
5. Lonely Soul
6. No Resolve
7. Interlude
8. The Brave
9. Rabbit Hole
10. Drunk Words
11. Get Loose

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