Thunder: Album Review

Album – All The Right Noises

Thunder are a British hard rock band from London. Formed back in 1989, the band enjoyed pretty huge success with their debut album, Backstreet Symphony, boasting huge singles such as Dirty Love and Love Walked In. In fact, all nine singles from the bands first two albums broke the top 40 in the UK singles charts, with both albums being certified gold in Britain. While they were a little late to the glam rock party, it all but being killed by Nirvana and Pearl Jam in 1991 just a year after Thunder’s debut album, the band still enjoyed some massive success through the 90s and after their brief hiatus at the start of the 2000s. Releasing a massive 12 albums by the time this year rolled around, they finally released their much-anticipated 13th, All the Right Noises, last week. I have been a huge fan of the band for a while now and they are always one of the highlights for me every time I see them at a festival, so I have been looking forward to listening to this one for a while. Without further ado, the review.

The album opens on the lead single, Last One Out Turn Off the Lights. It opens on an awesome guitar riff, starting straight into the sleaze/AOR feel. Said riff drops out to a huge, heavy drumbeat, the guitar coming in occasionally over the top still with a simple but effective few notes. It sounds great. Danny Bowes’ still impressively powerful vocals soon come in over the top, sounding just as driving as the drums and just as catchy and melodic as the guitars. A great pre builds into a massively catchy chorus, the backing vocals providing the bulk of the lyrics here as they repeat the song title over and over. They sound awesome with the effects on them and it is honestly one of the best, catchiest choruses I’ve heard so far this year. The double chorus and the very subtle horns in the second chorus made it even better, too. We get a very catchy bridge after this chorus, some more great backing vocals and horns behind Danny’s vocals. It leads into a fantastic guitar solo, it is unfortunately a tad quiet and lost a little in the rest of the mix, but it is still clear enough to be heard and impress me. We then head into a massive final double chorus and a short outro with some more obvious horn work to finish. All of this was fantastic, a really great radio-rock song and a great choice for a single. Easily playlisted.

Destruction opens a little slower than the previous song, starting on a low, palm-muted bass riff that has a frankly amazing tone to it. A steady cymbal keeps the beat while Danny’s lower vocals come in over the top, it all reminding me a lot of Monster Magnet’s Space Lord. It soon explodes into a heavy, sludgy riff as the distorted guitar tones come in, it sounding more like a biker rock track than anything remotely glam this time. It drops back down again for a second verse but quickly picks up into the awesome heavy guitar riff again for a great, simple chorus. While there aren’t many vocals in it, the riff more than makes up for it in catchiness and memorableness alone. We soon head into another fantastic little guitar solo, this one being a lot easier to hear. It doesn’t last too long though before we get another chorus, unfortunately. After said chorus the song drops back down, having some great female backing vocals in it as it slowly fades out. The structure and arrangement of the song was all over the place but if anything it only made it better, never knowing where it would go next. I loved this, and it is another that makes the playlist.

The Smoking Gun is another slower starter, opening on some great acoustic guitar chords and riffs, immediately giving off Bon Jovi, Dead or Alive vibes. The verse is great but the chorus is fantastic, Danny’s vocals sounding incredible and so powerful and fitting with the music. It’s massively catchy and the guitars behind it building up more into the choruses are really great. We get another guitar solo after the second chorus, this one having some great effects and tone on it, as well as plenty of wah. It’s simple but still pretty impressive and fits the song perfectly. A final chorus leads us perfectly to the end and this is one ballad I would LOVE to see live. Everything about this was great, from the vocals to the instruments to the emotion and lyrics. They’ve pulled a YMA6 so far and got all three of their first songs playlisted, and for good reason!

Going to Sin City, the most recent single, picks up the pace and heaviness again with a pretty chuggy riff and some more great horn usage. Any rock song that has horns in it has my love, I swear, there’s just something about it that sounds so great. Outside of these two things, though, there isn’t much to this song. It’s a damn good rock song and reminds me of a lot of their older stuff, but after three incredible songs filled with depth and emotion, this feels a little more reserved and safe. The chorus is another amazing one though and the solos are good. It would probably have also made the playlist if it was any other album. It just isn’t quite as good as the previous three.

Don’t Forget to Live Before you Die opens on a slow bassline again, much like Destruction. It builds up a little slower than that song, though, a great guitar riff coming in for the first chorus and the guitars stick around for the second verse. There’s some great little guitar notes behind the vocals that almost sound a little Soundgardeny too, complimenting the vocals perfectly. The build-up is complete after the second chorus as we head into an awesome little guitar riff before we get another blisteringly good solo. I do have to admit though, as much as I enjoyed this, it didn’t ever go quite as hard as I expected/wanted it to. Still, another great song!

I’ll be the One is another ballad, this one focusing more on the beautiful piano playing behind Danny’s vocals. It’s another beautiful slow song full of emotion and feeling, but for my money I do feel like Smoking Gun just edges it out. I’m not sure whether it’s just because hard rock has had so many excellent piano ballads now that it is so hard to write one up there with the same sort of quality (a la November Rain). Like this is a fantastic song, but it reminds me of other songs, be it Guns’n’Roses or even Robbie Williams, that are just that 1% better. Still, the guitar solo here is maybe my favourite on the album and I will still be listening to this song another few times at the very very least.

Young Man is another good rock song, but much like Sin City it feels ever so slightly generic and safe. Unlike Sin City though, the chorus isn’t quite as memorable here either. It’s a good song but it does feel a little like album filler, and it my least favourite on the album so far. Also, the outro was SO long. You’re Gonna be my Girl gave me pretty similar feelings, too. It’s another good rock song but just not quite up to the same quality as over half of the album to this point. It does have one hell of a great chorus, though! In fact, the more I listen to the chorus the more it gives me massive Quireboys vibes, one of my favourite bands. You know what, to hell with it, it gets playlisted. While there is nothing incredible about it, it is a fantastic sleaze rock song, some great instrumentation with the piano included again and the chorus is so SO good, especially with the female backing vocals repeating each line of it. Yep, this was good.

St. George’s Day is another pretty decent slow rock song, but again it’s nothing special. Force Of Nature, however, opens on maybe the best riff on the album, a simple but amazing acoustic guitar one that sounds so good with Danny’s vocals over the top. It soon kicks in with the same riff but distorted, it all coming together well to make this a damn good blues rock song. The guitar solo is again short and sweet but the harmonizing was a nice touch! There wasn’t much to this song but what there was was awesome.

Unfortunately the final song, She’s a Millionairess leaves with a little more of a whimper than a bang. The female backing vocals during the chorus again sounded awesome, but have been done better in other songs on this very album, and outside of that there isn’t much memorable about this song at all. It’s good and if anything reminds me the most of some of Kid Rock’s stuff, but it’s not the strongest song on the album to finish on. It’s catchy though, I’ll give it that, I’ll have that backing vocal melody stuck in my head for the rest of the day now.

Overall: this was awesome. It certainly lived up to my expectations and the band delivered a damn strong album. While not every single song was perfect, there was enough amazing stuff on here that the album as a whole was elevated greatly for it. A good 6/11 of the songs I will be listening to on a regular basis for a while now, and that is the sign of a damn good album.

Overall: 8/10

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The review by musician, blogger & author – Joe Griffiths

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