Monday 28 January 2019

Doomsday Outlaw - Hard Times (2018)

Country: UK
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 11 May 2018
Sites: Facebook | Official Website

I'm enjoying my journey into the New Wave of Classic Rock. Massive Wagons blew my socks off with Full Nelson and the new Inglorious album, Ride to Nowhere, sounded pretty damn fine too. Next up in this quest for me is Doomsday Outlaw, another new British band with an acclaimed vocalist who merely keep the blues a little closer to their rock sound than those two other bands.

I'm a little less sold on these Derby boys, based on this, their third album, mostly because it isn't as consistent. There's a variety of good stuff here but it never seems to gel together quite as well as an album.

For instance, there's an overt ballad called Into the Light that pops up four tracks in for no apparent reason and interrupts the flow. It's not a bad song but it's so driven by its vocals that it feels like a workout for singer Phil Poole or something to impress on a reality show rather than an integral part of an album. At least Inglorious placed their equivalent at the very end of their album, so it's less of an opportunity for the band to wander off and grab a pint. I liked the acoustic version of Days Since I Saw the Sun much more than Into the Light, but you'll only find that on the Japanese release.

That said, Hard Times is still a solid album that I enjoyed on a first listen and enjoyed more once I dived in a little deeper. Inglorious may well tailor their songs to be immediately accessible but they also stay more on the surface. What you hear is what you get. Doomsday Outlaw have more depth to them and songs like Come My Way, Were You Ever Mine and Too Far Left to Fall are subtle pieces that reward the listener who explores their brooding nature.

What's odd is that Hard Times doesn't put its most accessible material at the beginning and I have to admit I wondered a little about their acclaim for a few tracks, especially when the obstacle of Into the Light showed up. I should emphasise that it isn't bad to begin with; it just takes a few listens. The title track has an agreeable Led Zeppelin vibe with a David Coverdale vocal and Over and Over betrays a Bad Company influence. Both these songs do their jobs decently enough but they take time to grow; they don't leap out at us.

I was halfway through the album when Doomsday Outlaw suddenly decided to impress me. Days Since I Saw the Sun has a real emphasis to it with vocals that deliver melodic power and a gorgeous heavy bass driven backing. Will You Wait does the same but ratchets that power up another notch, washing it over us with some glorious guitarwork that I'm happy to say reminded me of prime UFO. An album full of tracks like this would be amazing.

Strangely, for a band rooted in the British style, the most overt winner is Break You, which switches that style up for an overtly American feel. It's a particularly cheeky little radio friendly number that kicks off like Aerosmith, and I mean old school Aerosmith when they were on top of their game the first time around. Then it adds a southern flavour, some Lynyrd Skynyrd and some Blackfoot. The pièce de résistance is a funky organ and horn backing which really elevates it. It's gorgeous stuff.

Right now, I'm thinking that this is the least of the three 2018 albums from acclaimed New Wave of Classic Rock bands, but I'm also thinking that it's the most worthy of exploration. I'm sure I'm going to come back to this a lot more than I will Inglorious. My rating may well rise.

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