One of the greatest finds at Wildfire 2017, Staffordshire power trio THEIA were a name on everyone’s lips by the end of the weekend. And as luck would have it, their last album was released at the same time which gave me a chance to check it out.
So little over a year later and THEIA are back with their third album. It’s everything which makes THEIA great turned up to the proverbial eleven. Wearing their influences on their sleeves but without making the band a tribute to them, it’s modern hard rock in the truest sense. You can hear late-era Bon Scott AC/DC bravado mixed with the punchy grooves of Thin Lizzy whilst adding in a healthy dose of Heaven’s Basement’s snarling, crunching riffs.
Not only that, The Ghost Light from its opening riff on “What You Want” presents the band in their best form. More self-assured and mature, they’ve sanded off the rough edges from Back in Line to give the world their true, final form. Much like its predecessor, sonically, it sounds like there’s more than one guitar and proves the rule: you have to be a very special band to justify only one set of six strings.
Whilst it may sound like it’s all muscular hard rock, the band know how to drop the pace with the soothing acoustic-led “Over the City”. Loaded with emotion, it may be one of the tamer tracks on the album but it packs as hard a punch as the rest. Meanwhile, “The Revelator” has a slow-burning bluesy intro to it before it ramps up into a full-bodied force with a bassline chunkier than a bar of Yorkie chocolate.
Closing track and lead single “Throw Me a Bone” adds another song to the increasing number of bands taking aim at the ridiculousness of Donald Trump’s Presidency, including his infamous “My button’s bigger than yours” comment to Kim Jong-un. Although the line “Beat on your chest, they’ll know you’re a man – don’t have to prove a thing, just know that you can” could be about Trump or BMW drivers. Kyle Lamley’s disgust at the matter is baked into his snarling vocals as he tells him and the other leaders to stop being children.
There’s still that familiar gritty sound with “Dirty Livin’”, its opening riff would be at home on Appetite for Destruction. “Children of Change” is one of their bouncier numbers and has the same vibe to it as “Paper the House” with its lighter tone but there’s still enough crunch to keep things heavy.
THEIA may not sound like the most original band on the planet if you look at their inspirations but to judge them solely on that would be reductive. They’ve managed to take the best bits of some of the best hard rock bands on the planet and make something original and modern. As one of the best bands on the UK grassroots scene, they’ve added another set of gems to their arsenal.
The Ghost Light doesn’t show THEIA making a progression in their sound. For starters, it’s not needed. Instead, it’s a refinement and improving on every front to present themselves tighter than ever. They’ve found their core sound and are sticking to it, they just want to make it better every time which they effortlessly manage with this new album.
The Ghost Light is out now