Ever since I reviewed the debut single from this record I have been looking forward to getting my mitts on the album. So without further ado here are my thoughts on the debut album from Defy All Reason, The Road Ahead.
The brute that is Midnight Train sets things off in fine style. The guitars crunch while the drums thunder like a er… train, and the result is a track that not only gets your attention but knocks you clean over. All of that is topped off not for the last time on this album by a great guitar solo which has you pulling that face like you’re the badest dude on the planet. (Don’t pretend you don’t know that face and that feeling)
The main thing that I love about these four guys from North Wales is exactly like rock bands from yesteryear, they are ‘everyman’ bands. You heard the music, the lyrics, and you thought that they were just like you, and that’s exactly how I felt when I heard Bad Blood.
I grew up in a working class town, every Friday we’d drink and put the hammer down. There was always a place to go for the sex, and the drugs, the rock and roll.
Now I’m guessing like me a good 95% of you raised a wry smile there because you remember those nights. The song itself is another belter, it’s got more of a Southern Rock/Black Stone Cherry kind of slant than the opener and it remains probably my favourite track off the album. Relatable lyrics, quality vocal and a roaring guitar solo, what more could you want?
The pace then drops down for ballad Behind Those Eyes. The gravelly vocal and the structure of this one mean that it’s overall sound falls somewhere between something from Rod Stewart and Bryan Adams. And unlike a load of music snobs out there I’m good with that. (Who the hell doesn’t love Maggie May!?) The thing that really sets this track about apart though is that solo, man alive, it’s a real soaring, grandstand effort that gives the track a real killer feel.
You Get Me High kicks things back up a gear with a great little fuzzy bass intro before the riffs return. It’s another solid hard rock track; it hasn’t quite got the standout quality of the first three but its enjoyable stuff nevertheless. Bad Taste Of You has got Nickelback written all over of it, the only difference here is that the boys have better hair. Yes Mr Kroeger I’m looking at you. Again I’m up for a bit of Nickelback so I’m down with this; I like the punchiness of it.
The intensity drops a little for the mid-tempo Finding My Way (Back To You) which is almost a ballad but this time a Rod Stewart free zone. The vocal is a lot crisper giving the track a different feel, but I have to say the horror film style bridge on around three minutes caught me by surprise. Reversed guitars and sharp high notes come out of nowhere before leading into a guitar solo. It might not be to everyone’s taste but it makes the song stand out and personally I’m a fan.
Shame is a different kettle of fish and is a close 2nd for the prize of favourite track. I love the gritty guitar riffs and the lyrics which spit venom in every direction. I reckon this makes a decent break up song, not that I’d know much about that. (Awwww) I Run sounds like a bit of an 80’s throwback which is ironic considering what is coming up in a minute. It’s got an air of familiarity like an old blanket; the only thing which thankfully takes the 80’s edge off is the lack of echo on the drums. Like I’ve said previously while this isn’t a standout track it’s more than solid.
I think the band are at their best when they’re carrying a bit of attitude so the return of that ‘fuck you’ stance on Because Of You is more than welcome. The fire in the lyrical delivery more than matches the punchy riffs and gives the track a kick ass flavour and a bit of fire. The drums stomp with breath taking authority and in my book this track is another winner. This is then followed by a cover of Wanted Dead Or Alive by Jon Jovi which caught me my complete surprise. I’m not a huge Bon Jovi fan but I like this rendition. Classic rock 101.
The Only One is lighter and slower and shows a different side to the band. They’re not just about gargantuan riffs and concussive drums, they have feelings too! It’s a different twist but it’s one that works. Penultimate track Cure For Healing is the only real misstep on the album. It’s not a proper track as such, just a bridge into closer Redemption but personally I thought it jarred a little. It’s basically 40 seconds of strings, now there has only been a hint of said strings on one other track so to me they feel out of place. That aside Redemption serves a great grand finale with a seriously epic feel and a metal section made for head banging just before the last note sounds.
Apart from that wobble at the end The Road Ahead is nearly perfect. Maybe a couple of the songs are a touch long but that’s about it. The production is immense as well. Vocals are spot on, the drums hit like Sugar Ray, the bass lays the foundation and the guitar work is fantastic.
I had such good fun reviewing this, it’s just great track after great track. As far as debut albums go The Road Ahead is a mighty fine opening salvo, a real gem of a hard rock record. I get the feeling that the road ahead could very well be paved with gold gentlemen.