Style: Hard Rock
Release Date: 8 May 2020
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Ryders Creed are a relatively new band but they've made quite the impact in just a few years. This is only their second album but their debut was voted the best of the year by the New Wave of Classic Rock community in 2018 and, only a year later, they won the Young Blood award at Hard Rock Hell. What's surprising to me is how mature this all feels for something from such a new band.
Now, young bands can put out insanely good debuts. I heard Diamond Head and Guns n' Roses in the Ryders Creed sound and both their debuts are legendary, but this doesn't sound like early work from those bands; it sounds like more mature work. Think To the Devil His Due instead of Lightning to the Nations. Think Civil War instead of Paradise City. It's no accident that, while there are three minute songs here, there are three more over six.
I listened to this a lot and let it sit with me and soak into my brain. I'm able to conjure up a lot of bands from whom Ryders Creed have clearly taken influence, but they don't sound like any of them. The Diamond Head, to cite one example, is evident often in the songwriting decisions and the riffing of guitarist Myles Cooper, but Ryders Creed don't sound like Diamond Head any more than any of their other influences. Cooper gets a two minute solo interlude in New Beginnings and it's the most unlike NWOBHM that he gets on the album.
Mentioning Diamond Head and Guns n' Roses may have raised an eighties sound in your brain and that's unfair. There's a lot of the seventies here, again in the songwriting but also in a lot of the quieter moments, where they hint at Barclay James Harvest and Wishbone Ash. There's much from later decades too. While vocalist Ryan Antony doesn't sound much like Eddie Vedder, there is a lot of Pearl Jam in his delivery. There's even a hint at stoner rock, though nowhere near as much as Baleful Creed. The result is a contemporary sound. Had this been released in 1975 or 1985, it would have been very out of place.
It's notable that many of the bands I could cite are metal bands, right down to the Metallica section midway through Memories, but Ryders Creed aren't a metal band at all. They're emphatically a hard rock band, but one confident enough to trawl in metal sounds. While this is more hard rock than Metallica ever got, that part in Memories hints at a song as old as Fade to Black and it feels natural in this material.
If there's an overt flaw, it's in how deep this is. While none of the eleven songs leap out as obvious singles because the band are more interested in a deep development of themes than radio friendly hooks, this still sounds good on a first listen. There are points that are clearly fantastic, as different as the guitar solo on Memories, the funky intro for Chasing Dreams and the epic last minute of Believer, but every one of these songs sounds better on a second listen and a third and so on and so on.
The catch is that I had trouble taking them away with me. I enjoyed them and appreciated what they were doing as I was listening to them. This is almost designed for critics who want to dive into the material and explore beneath its surface. It's a great album for me. Put any of these songs next to those of any currently popular band and they're going to stand out as superior.
It even feels catchy, again while I listen, as there's no lack of melodies, hooks and memorable riffs. However, these songs didn't play in my head after I put the album down. They certainly weren't playing there in the mornings when I woke up. And I still wonder why. Unleashed is a great song, featuring a strong vocal melodic line over a strong riff and it builds wonderfully to a strong chorus. Why is it not stuck in my head?
And that's why I dropped my rating from the expected 8/10 to a still worthy 7/10. The talent here is palpable and I want to hear more. If they can nail the earworm thing, they'll be unstoppable.