CD: Inglorious ‘II’ (Frontiers)

This was an album I meant to do a write-up on long before now; I went to the band’s Liverpool in-store appearance in May and picked up this record on the day, but ‘stuff’ kept intervening and it’s only now, with me out of gig-going action temporarily that I have got around to this one.

Inglorious are the latest in a long line of British rock bands touted as ‘the future of rock’; they were saddled with a tag of ‘The New Deep Purple’ by some commentators, which I thought was a little unfair. For one thing Deep Purple didn’t hit their stride until their fourth album and then only after a change of singer and bassist! Also, when Purple were at their peak, they were also at their most dysfunctional, something that this band could well do without as they make their own way in the rock scene. The tag was one this band could never live up to, and their debut album of last year showed promise, but ‘In Rock’ it wasn’t.

The band are built around singer Nathan James, whose pyrotechnic vocals certainly attracted attention. They have striven to present themselves as a band, not just a vehicle for the singer, but such is his voice, his presence, that he does dominate the spotlight, just as (for example) David Coverdale before him did with Whitesnake. However all the members have contributed to the songwriting on this album, including guitarist Wil Taylor who, after recording his parts for ‘II’ parted company with the band at the end of 2016, to be replaced by his own predecessor Drew Lowe. Taylor has since formed another band (Deeva) and has been back at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios this year (where this album was recorded), working on new material.

So what do we make of this follow-up album by Inglorious? CD in the deck, let’s press play…

It certainly gets off to a good start with ‘I Don’t Need Your Loving’; typical of their old-school rock style yes, but it’s a catchy number which ticks all the boxes. Hard riffs, singalong chorus and an early chance for James to show off those pipes. From there though, the album is full of material that could have been written by any number of those bands in that long line of acts that came before them. Titles such as ‘Hell Or High Water’, ‘Taking The Blame’, and ‘Change Is Coming’ give away what to expect even before you get to them, that this isn’t going to break any new ground. The playing is fine, the drums kick with enough wallop and the guitars slash away with intent, but these songs just don’t stick. Like the first album, you’ll come away with the impression you’ve heard this record many times before, the only thing that makes them stand out is the voice. There are fast-paced rockers (‘Taking The Blame’, ‘Hell Or High Water’), slower songs (‘Making Me Pay’), ones with Whitesnake-style gentle intros which bring the band in with a wallop (‘Tell Me Why’, ‘Change Is Coming’, ‘Faraway’), guitar workouts for axeman Andreas Eriksson such as the shred solo on ‘I Got A Feeling’, but this is an album that is a distillation of so many 1980s hard rock bands, nothing you haven’t heard many times before. It is all so familiar, that the only reason for picking it up is if you’re a particular devotee of James’s vocal style.

The in-store appearance aside, I’m still yet to see this band live (they are touring the UK in October 2017) and I’m sure they’ll cook up a storm live, but for me they need some stronger songs – even if that means an external writer. They can imitate the style of previous bands, but there is little to innovate here. I’m afraid this album only reinforces the perception that it is a vehicle for James, however hard he tries to tell us otherwise and I still feel the way I did after hearing this band’s debut – sooner or later he will be recruited into a supergroup or will be offered a solo mega-deal, one he would be crazy to refuse. This is a band made up of dependable, solid players but fronted by a singer who cannot be confined by this act for ever.

Inglorious II

Inglorious II

3gtrs

3 – Decent

 

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The Inglorious in-store, HMV Liverpool One, 16 May 2017

UK hard rock band Inglorious have just released their second album, ‘II’ (does that mean ‘III’ will take a folkier direction and the fourth album will be untitled, lads? ūüėČ ) which was recorded here in Liverpool last year, at the famous Parr Street Studios. To promote the album at launch the guys appeared at Liverpool’s HMV store to play a short acoustic set and do a signing. The HMV store in Liverpool One has a small corner set aside for such events on the lower level, and a crowd of between 30-40 people had gathered. These things tend to be awkwardly timed, as they usually take place at around 5pm and unless you are working in the area or have time off, they’re not easy to get to. However on this occasion, I had the opportunity to attend and as it took place at Liverpool’s HMV store rather than one further up the M62, it’d have been rude not to have gone along!

I have never actually seen Inglorious live until now; the gig I had planned to see last year in Wigan was nixed by another Same Night Syndrome – it clashed with a gig from former Wishbone Ash bassist Martin Turner who was playing in nearby St Helens. ¬†So this would be the first occasion I’d encountered them live in any capacity; they have since had one change to the ranks as guitarist Wil Taylor parted company with the group at the end of 2016. His replacement is Drew Lowe, who had been¬†part of the band in its early days. However it is Taylor’s guitar which is heard on this album, alongside that of fellow axeman Andreas Eriksson.

The guys came through the store to make their way to the performance area, with cheery greetings from singer Nathan James. Although the set was to promote the new album, they actually opened with two tracks from their debut (‘Until I Die’ and ‘Breakaway’). In between, the frontman regaled the audience with tales of their time in Liverpool, namedropping a few pubs including The Shipping Forecast. He also pledged that they’d love to come back for their third album, so it is likely they will once again pitch up at Parr Street when that time comes. Some of the new songs were played including ‘I Don’t Need Your Loving’, with a shoutout for radio statio Planet Rock who have consistently supported this band with airplay.

Towards the end they let slip that there would be a UK tour in October this year; needless to say an audience member seized on that and asked whether it would include Liverpool. “I don’t know!” came the honest response from Nathan – “We don’t get to choose!” he added. ¬†He did however say that they would do their best, especially if enough of us bought the album (!) “We need to pay back our record label!”, he concluded. The acoustic set lasted around 30 minutes, enough time to demonstrate what a powerful and rangy voice he has, as well as showcasing Andreas Eriksson’s ability to shred even on¬†acoustic guitar¬†.

Following the performance they gathered at a table across the store for the signing, everyone had either the CD or the LP version of the new album (the CD was £10, but the LP retailed at a whopping £27 Рno prizes for guessing which one your correspondent plumped for!). These things tend to be a conveyor belt, but it was still possible to grab a quick chat with the guys. After the signing the staff gathered together those still remaining to have a photo with the band.

I’ll listen to the album more thoroughly in the coming days and do a write up when time permits; their first offering was good but to me was a little familiar, and I would expect this to be similar in style but hopefully with more of their own stamp to it.

Youtube clip courtesy Kerry Maher:

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.

3gtrs

Decent

ingloriouscover