December 29, 2005 | | 4

Doomriders, Black Thunder

I’ve been meaning to pick this album up for quite some time now and finally got around to doing so a couple of weeks ago. I think what was holding me back the most were the mixed reviews I kept finding — it seemed that either folks absolutely loved them or simply wrote them off as a gimmick. Well, I’m here to say that regardless if it’s a joke or not, this album rocks like very few releases have this year.

Featuring Nate Newton of Converge, the band plays a style of hard rock that’s got plenty of doomy riffs, guitar trade-offs inspired by bands such as Thin Lizzy, and that dirty, fuzzy feel similar to the last Swarm of the Lotus record (produced by Kurt Ballou of Converge). The overall rock sound reminds me at times of Bars and, on occasion, The Bronx, but with more gloom. If I had one complaint about this album it would be that, like The Sirens of Silence from Swarm of the Lotus, the vocals are often overwhelmed by the sheer mass of the band’s sound.

Black Thunder The title track for the release starts off bluesy at first and then kicks into high gear with a high tempo rock riff. This is a prime example of this band sounding both like Bars and Thin Lizzy at the same time. That’s quite an accomplishment. The band definitely lets you know what they are all about on this opening track. As quickly as the song gets your blood flowing, it’s over.

Long Walk The smooth transition from the first track to the bass line of “Long Walk” is real nice. It keeps the momentum of the album moving along quickly. Here is where we notice the vocals drowning a bit under the weight of the music. There’s some great soloing on this one.

Ride or Die I hadn’t paid attention to the song titles prior to playing this for the first time, so when the slow bass drum started, I was preparing myself for a Black Sabbath cover. I quickly realized that it was not to be as the beat was much slower than “Iron Man.” Then that super doomy slow bass kicked in to destroy any notion of a cover. The track starts off slow and dark, and then picks up with the vocals. There are some great moments in this track: solo screams, riffs, and pounding drums.

Deathbox Here’s a more upbeat track. It’s got some decent group chorus shouts and a sound reminiscent of some of the hard rock influenced stuff that Entombed has toyed with on a couple of albums lately.

Listen Up! This song starts off great with a catchy drum track that gets your head nodding immediately. The scream and guitar work kicks in together to send this one into overdrive. We also find some more sweet licks from the lead guitars.

Midnight Eye I could have sworn this was a Danzig cover, but after a brief search found that it was wholly original. “Midnight Eye” is dark, gloomy and definitely inspired by Danzig, but still a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. We also find some of the cleaner vocal delivery found on the album.

Fuck This Shit The shortest track on the album coming in at just over a minute in length is an angst-filled thrashy, punk track that’s all over the place. It’s a nice change up after the slower “Midnight Eye.”

Worthless “Worthless” quickly follows up the last track with more thrash influenced rock. It’s also another short song, but is full throttle through till the end.

The Chase After those last two short bursts of fury, the band slows it down once again with thundering, doomy guitar work on the opening of this track. A great chord picks up the pace with the vocals.

Voice of Fire The only instrumental on the album, “Voice of Fire” is the longest song, coming in at just under 6 minutes in length. It starts off quiet and slow with a bluesy riff. The track maintains this feel for about the first two minutes of the track before picking up the pace.

Drag Them Down After that longer interlude, the band kicks it back into gear with a Coalesce inspired track. This is one of the more hardcore influenced songs on the album.

Whipcrack Here’s another short one that starts off with a punk style bass intro. It picks up quickly though with some more dirty hard rock.

Sirens “Sirens” starts off just as slowly and as softly as “Voice of Fire.” Have no fear, though, the band doesn’t end this high powered release with an instrumental. It doesn’t take long for the vocals to kick in. It’s a bit of a longer song as well, clocking in at over 5 minutes, but it’s a great ending to a terrific album.

I don’t understand how some folks can write this band off as a gimmick. They play their instruments too cohesively and too damned well to think of this as anything other than a great hard rock album that’s just too much damned fun to listen to. There’s plenty of riffs, clever drum tracks, and fuzziness to the whole thing that makes this one of my favorite albums of the year.

Favorite Tracks:
Black Thunder
Ride or Die
Listen Up!
Fuck This Shit

Additional Notes: