Two years can seem like a very long time when you are excitedly anticipating something. Certainly the wait for the debut album from Grumpynators has felt like a life time after being hooked by their previous releases. Once arrived and there waiting to explode from the speakers, thoughts turn to pondering if it will now live up to probably over demanding expectations and hopes. The Danish quartet’s self-titled motorbilly has been one of the few fresh sounds to really ignite ears and emotions over recent years and yes the band has forged another landmark in their ascent with Wonderland. The band’s mix of hard rock, psychobilly, punk, metal, and old school rock ‘n’ roll is maybe not over fuelled with major originality yet the way the band hone and twist the blend, it emerges as something distinct and specific to Grumpynators whilst providing a healthy and rousing option for fans of anyone from Motorhead to Metallica, The Damned to Volbeat, Mad Sin to Tiger Army. So it is again with Wonderland, a slab of ferocious rock ‘n’ roll pushing the band’s voracious sound and our passions to new heights.
The Copenhagen band was formed in 2011 by former band members and crew from Taggy Tones and Volbeat. Their first rampage on stage came that year at the Danish underground festival Barnyard Rumble in Denmark, the opening riot in an ever increasing and feverish attention following the band thereon in. Across the years the band has on shows and tours shared stages with the likes of Magtens Korridorer and Volbeat amongst a great many. A self-titled demo EP in 2011 just as potently awoke ears and appetites, though arguably it was the 666 RPM EP two years later which was the major spark to trigger a much further spread awareness. Wonderland is a bigger, bolder beast standing before us all now with the potential to break the band into the keenest spotlight possible.
The album opens up with its title track, and instantly has ears and imagination intrigued and enthralled by a thirty second kaleidoscope of haunting sounds and evocative textures. From its sinister coaxing, a flash of guitar opens the door for a predatory lure from the double bass of Jakob Øelund to immediately seduce an appetite always open to that kind of bait. Scything beats from Per Fisker equally adds to the brewing drama of the song whilst the guitars of Christian Nørgaard and Emil Øelund stir up air and senses with their belligerent persuasions. It is a fiery mix only increasing in energy and intensity as the song expands to its full height, the at times Lemmy like tones of Emil a magnetic roar in the midst of the infectious tempest. The encounter is equipped with the distinctive Grumpynators sound but already show a new adventure and creative theatre in the band’s invention and tenacity, hooks and swinging rhythms as mischievous as they are predatory whilst a guitar solo simply sizzles on the senses.
The stunning start is matched by both Walking in the Night and Burning in the Snow, the first dangling before the listener a spicy groove from its first breath, subsequently wheeling it in and using it to core the spinning of a feisty web of psychobilly contagion and hard rock devilry. The stomp just increases its attraction as vocals and another incendiary bass tempting fills its rampant prowl. Like a flirtation happy to brawl at any given moment, the track has ears and body leaping to its puppetry before making way for the similarly irresistible lures of its successor. The third track is a more even tempered stroll with restraint to its energy but even more virulence to its rockabilly meets punk ‘n’ roll devilment. Things do get over excited in its chorus but the band always pulls it back for a pungent croon of a seduction around the verses, led by Emil who is as ever impressively backed by calls across the band.
Walked Away winks with a dulled country twang initially before launching its own individual and tenaciously striding heavy rock persuasion. Of course as with all songs, it is a maelstrom of flavours colouring its anthemic canvas and tearing through ears, a thick flavoursome mix of rock infusing varied textures and spices soon emulated in The Calling. The track is a predator, prowling ears with an intimidating bassline and imposing grooves carolled by the excellently switching twin attack of the vocals. Track and band show you do not have to go hell for leather to create an inescapable anthem with the song, its character and potency a lingering thrilling threat. The short number of tracks in previous EPs generally meant each song bordered on a major highlight, the cream of that crop of songs so to speak, and it is easy to say that Wonderland follows suit, this point in the album already offering five dead on Grumpynator classics.
The Stalker steps forward next, this a lighter hued cantor despite its title but lock ‘n’ loaded with more addiction forging grooves and nagging hooks cast with a swagger and smiling contagion. As all offerings, it defies the listener not to join in with its epidemic of persuasion, poking the thought does rock ‘n’ roll get any better? Maybe not but it can be equalled as shown by Speeding #2, a reworking/recording of a track from their demo EP. It is does not venture too far from its first outing but provides a fresh and magnetic nature to an already established fan favourite.
The carnivorous This Is My Life growls next, its grouchy presence delving into more metallic scenery whilst laying down one pure rock ‘n’ roll groove through the forever masterful string plucks of Jakob. The guitars of Emil and Christian spread sultry strands of sonic endeavour around the instinctive catchiness of the proposal too, and driven by the forceful commanding swings of Per, yet another highlight is forged and soon matched by the voracious Pray For Your Life. It is a bruising antagonistic affair that, with its sterner caustic attitude, only captivates as its spreads its heavy and hard rock invention.
Both songs though are outshone by the steamy Mama No, probably the most diverse track on the album in that every strain of sound found on Wonderland is embroiled in the hectic and irresistible punk metal ‘n’ roll rampaging. Every riff and groove comes with a thick splattering of those flavours to their colour, an impressive feat and success driven by rabid rhythms and the rousing tones of Emil. The track is the perfect end to the album but the band knows better and closes things off with A Life Without You, an acoustic seducing of guitar and vocals embraced in the melancholic beauty of cello provided by Richard Krug. The song is a dark romance in ears, one sparking a tingle in the senses and a sigh of satisfaction by its, and Wonderland’s end.
It is fair to say that Grumpynators had a head start on raising the passions thanks to their excellent previous EPs but that also led to greater, greedier demands on Wonderland, something tossed aside with ease. As declared a little earlier, rock ‘n’ roll does not get much better than this.
Wonderland is out now via Target through most online stores
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net