Review Date: September 2016
Reviewer: Paul Jack
Source: Rock Hard Reviews
There's always something special about the raw sound of classic Oz Rock. Originally from Vancouver, in 2003, and scattered worldwide since, we have Thunderbird, who have come together once more, taken that wonderful, steel-edged attitude, and melded it with an assortment of that classic Oz Rock sound, blues-rock and melodic metal and punk to bring us a ballsy new album called Heavyweight.
Heavyweight is a swaggering sixteen tracks full of in-your-face attitude, reliving the magic era of late seventies / early eighties classic rock. Hard rocking riffs abound throughout Heavyweight, and the album has been caught cheekily blasting out through Rock Hard Towers way into the evening, long after the writing team were supposed to have knocked off.
For the dedicated classic rock fan, there is simply so much in to choose from. Styles vary along the way, yet remain coherently part of the whole album experience, entertaining the listener with just the right mix and variety, whilst not straying too far off the well-trodden classic rock track. With a sixteen track compendium, there is something here for every classic rock fan, so let's pick out a few highlight tracks.
Opening with Run For The Border, there's a very definite AC/DC tribute sound here, worthy and sincere. By the time the guitar solos break out 2 minutes in, there is no doubt that Thunderbird are a talented group, sporting serious musical chops and a clear desire to honour the golden era of rock.
Earth may be a sleazy number, but the big riffs and abundant, stylish solos are so darn good they save the track for deteriorating into schoolboy humour, and elevate it to a very enjoyable rock number.
Heavyweight is faster but not furious, with more than a hint of 'Diamond' Dave Lee Roth. It will come as no surprise that vocalist Marc LaFrance has sung on David Lee Roth and Motley Crue albums. An excellent title track for a great rock album.
Right from the get-go, Grudge City hits you full on with its brash guitar melodies and pulsing beat, leading us into The Set-Up, which is the first of three tracks featuring guest vocalist Steve Mulry from Black Label. The songs tells a story, doorman vs off-duty cops, a brawl, then a set-up. The throbbing bass and kick-ass riffs all combine to make this a great retro rock number.
Big Stick deserves a special mention just for its trashy, unsubtle cheek. Lyrics are barely one step away from becoming a Macc Lads-ish punk-offensive atrocity, only with breakout moments having a style evoking Alice Cooper experimentation.
Break-up ballad Today starts with gentle acoustic guitars, and the vocals are so reminiscent of Biff Byford that this could easily be a Saxon number.
On The Prowl is not just the title of a Tygers Of Pan-Tang compilation, it is also hard hitting Thunderbird track about nocturnal adventures on the town. A bit punk, a bit rock, a bit excellent. Give it a listen.
Ahh, Baton Rouge. I just love the swampy, blues intro, and the explosion into majestic rock riffs. A pounding beat, swaggering vocals, well executed tempo changes, and briefs drifts into proggy solos. Nice.
For a faster edge, sleaze-rock number Sweet As races along head down, lungs bursting, raunchy lyrics, a Motley Crue vibe and a guitar solo which would make Angus Young proud. Whereas Go proves that Thunderbird can turn the speed and energy up to eleven, and accelerate into a full-tilt punk themed instrumental number, with the slightest hint of maybe-Maiden in there somewhere. Here the passion in their music as Thunderbird roars!
For a total change of pace, check out This Sea. Soft and gentle, with romantic undercurrents. It's the calm before the storm which is final track Bloody Mary. Heavyweight finishes with one final blast of hard hitting rock. No resemblance to the Whitesnake number of the same name. Just a back-to-the-roots shot of adrenaline fuelled heavy rock to leave you wanting more.
Heavyweight is a worthy classic rock album, and will both please and entertain committed fans of the genre. There is no doubt that the band are great musicians, and their passion for old school heavy rock is obvious. When it comes to new music over here in the UK, there is an AC/DC shaped void which, despite the best efforts of Airbourne to fill, leaves plenty of room for hard hitting Oz Rock acts such as the talented Thunderbird to entertain fans. We can't wait to see what Thunderbird do next. Pray we don't have to wait another decade for a follow-up album!
- Marc LaFrance - Vocals
- Rod Coogan - Guitar
- Rob Becker - Bass
- Tim Rath - Bass
- Kelly Stodola - Drums
With special guests Steve Mulry (vocals), Steve Edmonds (guitar), Brendan Clarke (bass), and Chris Payne (bass)
- Run For The Border
- Grudge City
- The Set-Up
- Leave it Alone
- Big Stick
- On The Prowl
- Baton Rouge
- Sweet As
- This Sea
- Bloody Mary