Album: Inglorious ‘Inglorious’ (Frontiers)

It’s been impossible to avoid reading, or hearing about UK sextet Inglorious in the months leading up to the release of this, their debut album. Every time you opened a rock magazine, browsed a rock-orientated website you’d see a picture of these guys (or of just vocalist Nathan James), or if you tuned in to Planet Rock (the UK’s only national radio station geared towards classic rock), chances are you’d hear one of their songs before very long.

The band were put together in 2014 and are very much built around the powerhouse vocal of Nathan James; he was totally off my radar until recently but had previously toured with Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO)  as well as Uli Jon Roth. Before all of that, he competed on a televised talent search show in the UK. James is without doubt the name, the face and the voice of this band although in publicity for this record, they have been keen to play that down in favour of presenting this act as a complete unit. To that end, they recorded this album using ‘old-school’ techniques; they eschewed auto-tune, digital recording and other aids such as click-track, in an effort to recreate the feel of the classic-era hard rock records which inspired them.

I was meant to go and see this band live recently but found that the date clashed with another gig I’d booked (a frequent frustration of mine when it comes to gig-going!) so I missed out on seeing their recent headline tour, and also missed the chance to see them open for the Winery Dogs at the start of the year; the nearest show was in Manchester, because it was mid-week that made it impractical.

So having missed out on seeing them live this time around, I decided to fire up Spotify where the whole album is available to listen to for free (if you don’t mind the occasional ad) and decide for myself whether or not the massive hype surrounding this group is justified.

Things kick off with ‘Until I Die’; one of two tracks that has been in heavy rotation on Planet Rock. On the album it’s preceded by a lengthy intro on Hammond organ (courtesy of Liam Holmes), but soon kicks in with that mighty riff from guitarist Andreas Eriksson. The initial impression is that James’s voice is reminiscent of the late Ray Gillen; his band Badlands are just one of the many rock bands of the past you’ll recall when listening to this record. ‘Breakaway’ is a fast-paced rocker which made me think of Sammy Hagar.

The whole album will have you either getting straight away where they drew their inspiration from or have you scratching your head wondering where you heard that bit before. I did get the impression I’d heard this album many times before, and while they certainly do mine the Zeppelin seam like so many others before them have, it’s hard not to think of the likes of Whitesnake, Mr Big, Rainbow, and even more recent acts such as Alter Bridge while playing this album through.

Overall then, it is a solid debut, not the instant classic many would have you believe as the influences are a little bit too obvious. I feel the plaudits already bestowed upon them (they’ve been compared to Deep Purple, for example) have led to something that is impossible to live up to, certainly with a debut album. They can become a great band in time, if allowed to develop properly. However, vocalists of the calibre of Nathan James don’t come around that often, so sooner or later I think he will receive an offer he’d be mad to turn down and will find himself in LA in the company of more stellar players. He’s far and away the most recognisable name in this outfit and it will either become ‘Nathan James and Inglorious’, with a revolving cast of backing players or he will eventually go solo. It is to be hoped that the band as it currently stands will survive long enough to make the album they’re capable of before that happens.