After coming out the gates earlier this year at full-pelt with their self-titled EP, Wicked Stone are back to deliver another helping of polished modern hard rock with their aptly-titled debut album, Ain’t No Rest.
Opening proceedings with the title track, it shows a band who mean business with their massive, chunky riffs. That along with “Another Round”, “Slide Baby” and “The End” should be familiar if you’ve heard the EP as they’ve been included here and sound exactly the same. With this, it means they slot in effortlessly with the six new tracks on offer, having been given the same production treatment. They sound just as good as they did the first time around and it’s great to hear more from the quintet.
Whilst in the past I’ve bemoaned the notion of all modern hard rock lately sounding similar since bands seem to be inspired by the same six modern bands, Wicked Stone also does this but does it far better than most others. Ain’t No Rest is exactly what a hard rock album should be: ten songs each of which cross the four-minute mark with the occasional tiptoe into the five minute territory. All of the tracks are short, sharp and punchy; each of them doing exactly what is required of them before they get the hell out to give way to the next one.
With songs like “One Time”, “Hit it ‘N’ Quit It” and “Get in or Get Out”, it’s a sonic assault your ears are going to love. Your head will be bobbing along in no time and it’s no surprise they were asked back to next year’s Breaking Bands Festival to play under headliner Chris Slade. Much like Slade’s band – some bunch called AC/DC – they don’t go in for ballads. They maybe drop things by half a step but you’ll not find a song here to get the lighters in the air. And honestly, that’s fine by me; it’s not a lesser album for lacking it.
Finding room for melody in the sound, guitarists James Forrister and Ryan Stageman work in perfect tandem with their Black Stone Cherry-inspired riffs if they were played by Mark Tremonti. You can’t help but be left open-mouthed after hearing any of the ten tracks; they’re that tight as a double act. But it extends to the band as a whole. For a band barely two years old, they’re showing those far more established how it’s done.
Frontman Joe Hawx has an incredibly robust voice, almost as if Brent Smith had been swallowing gravel for a month with Hawx sounding far more capable. Meanwhile Olly Smith smashes the drums with his partner in crime James Amos on bass to create the grooves that will have your neck in a spasm the next morning after all the headbanging they’ll induce.
While you could throw the accusation of being lazy at the band for essentially making a second EP and putting it together with its predecessor, you can’t. The songs are simply too good. Ain’t No Rest is a perfect portrait of a band with grand intentions and with an album like this, Wicked Stone shouldn’t have a problem fulfilling them.
Ain’t No Rest is released on 7th October