I’ve been pretty lucky to have a whole succession of pretty good album releases drop into my box in recent weeks and Doomsday Breakdown is no exception. Italy is proving itself to be at the centre of a hard rock resurgence currently and Lola Stonecracker (a Bologona based band) have been around since 2009 but this is their first full length release.
The album is recorded fresh off the back of tours with Faster Pussycat and Adlers Appetite, and this in itself should give you an idea of the type of sound to expect. The time spent together has given the band a tightness and freshness which translates very well onto the record. Doomsday Breakdown is actually 15 songs in length and they have managed to carve 15 individual tracks, the versatility of this album is what is going to eventually draw you in and gives it a longevity well past the obvious lead singles. They may wear their influences on their sleeves, this is a hard rock record but there is also a nod towards the 70’s, blues rock and even grunge. I was particularly taken with Alex Fabbri’s vocals; so clear; which is very refreshing to hear but delivered with the energy, timing and catchiness of Axl Rose during his peak and at times is also reminiscent of Ian Astbury of The Cult.
“Jigsaw” is one of the lead singles and after a very Led Zeppelin, sitarish intro it burst into the opening track which comes on like a whirlwind. Its dirty, it’s a blast, it rocks and you can imagine the singer swirling round and the band putting everything into it. To top that though it has a super catchy chorus which Fabbri sings and growls his way through.
From second track “Witchy Lady” it will some come obvious that one of Doomsday Breakdowns strengths is the depth and range of the songs. I often think that placing a slower song after a strong and rocking opener is a risk but “Witchy Lady” with its 70’s heavy bass and “Witchy Lady” chorus works particularity well. It isn’t a ballad just a more thoughtful and slower burning song. Again Lola Stonecracker manage to draw you in with the use of a well-constructed bridge and chorus combination which builds you up into a climax before bursting into the simple chorus. The lead guitar solo is great too and I love the fact they use effects on the guitar during these solos to give the overall sound an extra dimension.
One of the stand out tracks is “Secrets of The Universe” which opens with a gentle acoustic guitar and a thoughtful lead guitar overlay. It isn’t long before the heartfelt (and yet again) catchy chorus is introduced. This is the first ballad of the album and as it builds you can’t but help fall for its charm. Its perfectly structured, as it heads towards the end and all the elements come together, the chorus and lead guitar is a perfect mix. If this was the late 80’s / early 90’s this track would have been an MTV stable for sure and would have made the band.
We mentioned the grunge elements in our introduction and songs such as “Perils of a Man From the Past” introduce this onto the album. It has a great dark and powerful opening and vocally it is much darker than some of the earlier tracks. This is married with a slow crunchy guitar that emphasises this darker desperation. A theme that is continued into “Jekyll and Hyde”, I love the growl of the vocals and gang mentality of this track.
This is a great album and at 15 tracks long I have not commented upon every track but there isn’t really a bad song on the album. Those years touring have enabled Lola Stonecracker to put their very best songs into their debut. Tracks and moments that do stand out include tracks such as the title track “Doomsday Breakdown” with its progressive chord sequence. “Space Cowboys” which has a slide guitar feel and spoken dialogue. One very unusual inclusion is the choice to cover Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Relax’. It is actually a pretty straight forward guitar driven version. It doesn’t deviate too far from the original but it surprisingly suits Lola Stonecrackers style very well and they make a very good stab at it. “Generation on a Surface”, on the other hand, despite its almost rappy, spoken word beginning reminds me in places of Rainbow during their Difficult to Cure period. The chorus is almost a chant and delivered with a lot of energy that you don’t have time to draw breathe.
“All This Time” is another ballad, something Lola Stonecracker excel at. Gentle guitars and even gentler almost whimsical vocals float you into this track. Reminding me more of Sixpence None the Richer than traditional rock bands. The bridge and chorus again are very heartfelt and overall this has a nostalgic feel of looking back, but in a good way. Lovely guitar solo end to this as well. A powerful pop ballad, pure and simple. Final ballad of the album ‘Shine’ has been a mainstay of the bands set for some years now and it easy to understand why. This is a more confessional style than the other ballads, simple guitars and plaintive lyrics; another winner for the Lola Stonecracker boys.
This album is such a strong all-rounder that everyone in our office enjoyed listening to it and for that reason alone I could not recommend it enough. I have heard some strong contenders for the best Hard Rock album of the year and Doomsday Breakdown, if push came to shove may just be that winning album.
Doomsday Breakdown is out now.