Valve Rider – Bring It On Heavy

Bring It On Heavy from British rock band Valve Rider is a powerful and intriguing slab of hard and classic rock brought with flames of blues. Frustratingly it is also an album which promises much but fails to realise enough to truly leave one satisfied. It is also frustrating knowing that a lot of the review will appear negative towards the release mainly because of one aspect when actually despite all is still an enjoyable and easy to accompany piece of rock n roll. The majority of it is skilfully brought and performed though not exactly inspiring in the area of originality. It is certainly a likeable release which one would have no hesitation in playing again when a solid ride of rock n roll was the order of the day.

That element which holds back Bring It On Heavy most of all is the production. It lacks a rawness which all rock albums need but more so has a destructive hollow resonance across its expanse which depletes the scorching blues energy and inventive flames which do erupt throughout the strong craft. You can only assume from listening to the songs that Valve Rider are one mean and powerful live band, a group to ignite stages but sadly none of that assumption due to the sound and its treatment is confirmed on the album.

Formed by guitarist Nathan Moore, with vocalist Adam Ward and brothers Lee and Sean Gallagher, drums and bass respectively, Valve Rider certainly know their craft with each member accomplished and inventive in their individual elements and as a united force. The guitar of Moore is especially impressive across the release, melodic imagination, and scorched blues invention nothing less than impressive. Ward and the Gallaghers though are no less integral to the band’s sound, the quartet one feels certainly have something special within them, it is just not quite now with Bring It On Heavy.

The album opens with Judge; bike revs its introduction to a hot blues swagger. You can hear the heat haze around the guitar play whilst the vocals are strong and distinctive, both pleasing aspects throughout the song and album. Without wishing to harp on about it the production just muffles the impact so that even when the vibrant bass play has its centre stage it is less than forceful alongside beats which have their might defused. It is a decent start though and easy to find time for as is the next up title track.

That and the following Buried are agreeable tracks without lighting any fires, two songs where recognition of the musicianship is easy but originality less obvious, yet still songs you can play often with no regrets. From this point though the album lifts off with a trio of songs which inspire that notion the band have inside what is needed to break into higher levels. The excellent Cross The Line is soaked in fine blues invention, its southern breath an added spark to lift it above previous songs. With elements of Lynyrd Skynrd and Steppenwolf to it, there is a sixties/seventies classic rock stroll which only raises the pleasure though nothing as much as next up Shovelhead. An instrumental with only vocal harmonies to add extra texture, the track is glorious, maybe the one time everything does comes together. Arguably the track would have made the perfect opening to the album but wherever it is placed it is a gem and surely a big favourite in their live set.

Mine’s A Whiskey is a dirty and hungry piece of rock n roll, again almost ruined by the production so it shows the quality and strength of the song that its rises against that to stand as a highlight of the release. Surely another fan favourite, it is a riotous ball of incendiary guitar play and compulsive rhythms, rock n roll at its best and most infectious.

The remainder of the album is like the start, more than gratifying to listen to but not able to leave one breathless or over excited. Songs such as Live Fast And Die, 8 Lives Down, and Let It Roll make returning to them and the album easy though they do offer more than they deliver though to some extent it is out of the hands of the band.

All rock fans should check out Bring It On Heavy as despite its flaws it is still an enjoyable chunk of rock which leaves one knowing Valve Rider could unleash something major and stunning in the future. Give them a top environment and crew to work with and it is hard to imagine them not flourishing.

RingMaster 01/10/2012

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1 reply

  1. Have heard them live a couple of times and they were briliant, a very powerful live band. I would agree that the producer seems to have dumbed down their power, and for that they should be brought to task as they have been done a disservice, but all in all I am loving this album, and I’m encouraged to go and watch them again to remind me why I bought the album in the first place. \o/

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