The hard-hitting Massive Wagons have been making big rumblings since the release of their debut album ‘Fire it up’ in 2012. With numerous support slots under their belts, not to mention an appearance at Bloodstock Open Air on the party HQ Jagermeister Stage, their craft has been well honed, all of which has led the release of ‘Welcome To The World’. Coming across like a souped-up, angrier Foo Fighters, the five-piece play unpretentious hard rock with bite and belief.
With what can best be described as determinedly confident riffing, ‘Welcome To The World’ arrives with the, well, hard as nails, ‘Nails’. Hard driving, melodic and tuneful, it’s immediately clear that Massive Wagons’ play heavy music, but with a keenly attuned commercial ear. The guitars, played by the talented Adam Thistlethwaite, are crisp and in places, smooth, and atop it all sits singer Baz Mills.
With his strangely familiar tones akin to those of Offspring’s Dexter Holland, it’s a timbre that admittedly takes a little getting used to. However there’s no doubting his commitment, and with emotive lyricism veering from pained to, well, just plain sweary, he’s entirely believable with his strains of; “f**k’ all the pain, f**k all the hate, f**k all the people that hate you”. It’s impassioned, if slightly juvenile stuff, and the expletives continue on Darkness-esque lead single ‘Tokyo’. Although undoubtedly catchy, Mills’ continued use of the f-word probably goes a long way to explaining why they “won’t play us on the radio”.
With myriad influences shining through throughout, the title track - a mid-paced rocker, of which there are many – has echoes of a contemporary ‘Hold The Line’ by Toto. A brave attempt at a fist in the air anthem, it’s filled by meaty hooks, big chords, and bigger choruses. Elsewhere ‘Fighting Jack’ is the closest the Wagons get to going all-out AC/DC.
The album may be held to ransom by its overreliance on the same plodding tempos, however there are welcome changes of pace here and there, such as on the schizophrenic ‘S**t Sweat Death’, which touches on Led Zeppelin with its shuffling rhythms and slidin’, chiken picikin’ guitars, before morphing into a glorious, redneck Metallica anthem.
At the other side of things, there are the ballads - or ballads in disguise, such as the semi-acoustic ‘Aeroplane’ and sing-along anthem ‘Ratio’. Once again, it's the guitars that shine in both cases, with the Slash-esque soloing from Thistlethwaite on the latter offering the song’s high water mark.
There’s no doubting the passion and conviction that has gone into ‘Welcome To The World’, however with little deviation from the same safe formula, there are moments when you’d be forgiven for wondering; “didn’t I just hear this song?” If you like dirty riffing, hi-pitched vocals and tight rhythms, then ‘Welcome To The World’ is for you. Solid, and sturdy; just don’t expect wheels of fire.
By Eamon O'Neill on 10th May 2016.
'Welcome To The World' is out now.