Monday 26 August 2019

Eighteenth Hour - Eighteenth Hour (2019)

Country: USA
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 23 Aug 2019
Sites: Facebook | Official Website

I have a very deliberate focus here on rock and metal from around the world, but that doesn't mean that there aren't great bands coming out of the US as well. Eighteenth Hour are an energetic hard rock band from Bethlehem, PA who have been winning all sorts of local band awards. This is their debut album after a decade supporting bands like Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Greate White, even blues singer Shemeika Copeland.

There are certainly classic rock influences here. You don't need to wait for the slide on Unnoticed to realise that a lot of it comes from southern rock. I kept hearing moments of Rory Gallagher too but his vocals rather than his far more famous guitar. It's in the phrasing of singer Geoff Houser, who has a rock voice but one clearly sourced from the blues. Of course, there are a few songs where he sounds a lot more like Jon Bon Jovi, like Unnoticed.

However, this sounds a lot more contemporary to me, even if I'm not up on a lot of the new bands to tell you who they might sound like, if anybody. I'm hearing an alternative edge but not so strong as to push this away from the hard rock core of their sound. There's even a little prog at points, like a neat riff on Should've Been Gone, after a few bars of an intro that sounds a lot like the Scorpions.

I don't know quite how long it's been since Eighteenth Hour was founded but it's been a while and I'm sure they've racked up a lot of songs in that time from which to compile this debut album. It doesn't feel rushed. They clearly have enough material to populate this with strong songs and probably have a bunch left over for the follow-up.

And I'd suggest that the songs are what they're all about. There are a few solid solos here, courtesy of Houser and David Zullo, not least on Takes Me Back, perhaps my favourite song (though the consistency is strong enough to mean I have a new favourite each time through). They're backed up by a solid rhythm section of Jim Touchton and Tom Chaffier who keep things tight. Just listen to Should've Been Gone to hear them do that even though Jim's bass is doing something completely different to Tom's drums. At the end of the day, though, none of them are showing off here. They're each just playing their parts to make the songs work.

And they all do. Few of these scream to be, well, singled out for a single release, but every one of them could be a viable single. They're all catchy without being flashy, which means that they grow. Hear one on the radio and you might let it pass unacknowledged but it might also take root inside your head and, next time it comes on, you'll be paying attention to it. The more you listen, the better it gets. And that goes for all ten tracks, none of which are clones of any of the others.

Maybe the most accessible are the ones that pause the music at key points so that the vocals can get a little emphasis. They do this on the first couple of tracks and they do it very well. The album gets deeper from there. I wish I could give you an elevator pitch for this band, but I can still recommend them highly. I dug this a lot. It sounded good on a first listen and then it dug into my skin.

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