Brighton based heavy rock trio The Rocket Dolls are about to unleash their sophomore album DeadHead this Friday (6th April) on the world, and we here at The Moshville Times had the pleasure of getting a first listen. Having not heard their debut, I was promised it features “Just the right amount of melody with straight up hook laden riffs combined with curveballs when you least expect them.” I was excited to give it a spin and see if it lived up to that enticing description.
It did, mostly. Blasting out of the starting blocks “None of This is Right” is a powerful opener. Chugging catchy riffs, stomping drums and clear melodic vocals have you foot tapping almost immediately and then there’s that curveball which comes in right at the end of the track. Heavier sludgy guitars and Grohl-esque screams made me really sit up and listen and this rolled in sublimely into second track “Starting Something New”, which carries on this far heavier tone. It’s an angry one, a track about revenge, with haunting verses and heavier choruses it sums up the album’s sound.
Title track “DeadHead” sees Nikki Smash (vocals/guitar) really open up about his battles with depression, hitting rock bottom and realising things have to change. He really hones in his more angsty screaming vocals in this track which far suit the band’s fleshy sound. The band let loose at the end of the track, sludgy riffs and colossal crashing drums have you head banging in delight and it’s here the band really seem to establish their sound.
“She Said” is a far poppier number and almost too upbeat for the subject matter of anxiety and the confusion and fear that it brings, it’s in a completely different tone to the previous tracks and to me personally it feels a bit awkward sitting at this point in the album. When track five “The Last Thing on my Mind” kicks in, it feels like an entirely different album altogether. A huge intro backed with orchestral strings although effective, again feels like it belongs on different record and I’m starting to feel that The Rocket Dolls haven’t quite found their feet musically.
But then… holy hell! “Stop the Dead Men Crying” slams in with distorted heartfelt vocals, filthy bass grooves and huge, solid riffs and it feels like The Rocket Dolls are back in the room! Lyrically emotive and as admitted by Nikki himself, the hardest track to sing, it’s about his personal journey and about the people closest to him continually supporting him even when he abused their very presence. This is one of the stand out tracks for me, the whole band’s passion screams throughout this number.
As the album progresses it does tend to feel like there’s a set formula to most of the songs with clean vocal verses and screamy, heavy choruses which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it leaves it predictable at times. However, I love the more punky vibe to “The Desperate” focusing on a more political theme lyrically, the band rage out their frustrations at society, angry vocals and demonic guitars really accentuates what’s good about this band. This more edgier sound continues through to the end of the album with “Strain”, “Rusty Bones” and “Trigger” it feels like the band have held back for these last three tracks! Talk about saving the best til last! There’s some monolithic riffs, rabid drumming and guttural screams and I can’t reiterate enough how much this heavier sound really suits this band.
DeadHeads is a really good album, emotionally charged and monstrous sonically in places. A couple of the tracks seem a bit misplaced early on adding a slightly confusing element to the album. However, I feel The Rocket Dolls are just on the cusp of really finding themselves and establishing their direction musically and I’m sure there’s many great things still to come from them. Catch them live at a town near you.
- 6 April SOUTHAMPTON, The Firehouse
- 7 April WORTHING, Bar 42
- 10 April SHEFFIELD, West Street Live
- 11 April NEWCASTLE, Trillians Rock Bar
- 12 April EDINBURGH, Bannermans
- 13 April GLOSSOP, The Globe
- 14 April BIRMINGHAM, The Hammer & The Anvil
- 15 April NORTHAMPTON, The King Billy Rock Bar
- 19 April SWANSEA, Creature Sound
- 20 April WEYMOUTH, Finns
- 21 April LONDON, Dublin Castle
- 26 May BRIGHTON, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar
- 4 Aug HASTINGS, Black Market VIP
DeadHead is released on 6th April