With a name taken from Motorhead’s debut album and a list of influences that reads like a ‘who’s who’ of rock, On Parole were never going to sound like anything but a modern take on old school rock n roll. Their lineup having solidified recently, the band released their second EP ‘Unknown’ in February, almost a year to the day since their first, self-titled EP. In between, they wrote songs, held a fundraising Halloween bash, and gigged, gigged, and gigged. Playing live is, of course, a great way to improve your skills, as well as giving songwriters plenty to write about. So, does all that experience translate positively onto this new EP?
The title track would certainly seem to suggest it. Opening with a chugging, pacy riff, it is definitely old school rock, with a dash of punk thrown in to add spice and attitude. Frontman Sam Davidson puts in a robust and confident vocal performance, while his guitar work is crunchy and muscular. There are flashes of the likes of Silverchair here too, particularly in Ryan Noble’s vibratingly deep basslines. A no-nonsense, solid beginning.
‘Lester’ is up next, with guest vocalist (and band manager) Patrick Coffey providing a more gravelly and raw tone; the yin to Davidson’s yang, if you will. The track’s syncopated beat and tough, almost mocking lyrics make for another proper rock number, with an excellent guitar solo to boot.
A more bluesy tone enters the fray in ‘Dead Man’s Train’, with its slinky intro and spoken word passages from the Devil himself. It slides into a bracing beat and quite a punky groove, with some tricky time changes; not quite ‘no frills’ but nothing distracting either. With its dynamic instrumental break and ominous feel this one must be enormous fun to watch (and play) live.
‘Shotgun Romance’, the highlight of the EP, takes the listener back to pure, unadulterated rock n roll: very Motorhead, very well written and catchy as hell. There are no tricks, no mid-song pace changes, just a thunderous song and a chance for the band to really show off their chops, particularly in the last few minutes.
Then we reach the last song, ‘A Sirens Tide’. Clocking in at a rather daunting 9.39 minutes, this is the ‘epic’ of the EP. It takes the listener from a doomy, Sabbath-y intro, to an indie accoustic guitar break, to a slinky Velvet Revolver-style riff, to a sweepingly majestic, almost Celtic sounding outro. Is it good? It is undoubtedly well-written and executed, at times even beautiful. It does seem to be a tad overblown, however, and certainly a bit out of place here. It almost sounds like two songs sort of…smushed together – in fact, perhaps the best thing would have been to separate it into two songs. It’s a curious ending to an EP crammed with pure rock.
That slight niggle aside, this is a remarkably self-assured release from On Parole. They are clearly a talented bunch, and all that gigging has indeed brought out their best, as witnessed here. Each song is simply bursting with the spirit of rock n roll – fun, classic and effervescent. If this is the effect that the likes of Motorhead have on today’s rock stars in the making, Lemmy must be just as proud as punch.
◀ STANDOUT ⁞ Shotgun Romance ▶
◀ SOUNDS LIKE ⁞ Velvet Revolver | Motorhead ▶