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Sideburn - #Eight

by Anna Chase at 03 July 2017, 1:33 PM

Hard Rock will always have a special place in my heart. ALICE COOPER, AC/DC, DIO… they were my childhood, and what first introduced me to the wild world of Heavy Metal. That’s why I was especially excited to listen to SIDEBURN- other than being a pretty cool style of facial hair, they’re also critically acclaimed rockers from Switzerland who have had a decades-long career in music and have made quite the name for themselves in Rock n’ Roll. The band was formed in 1985 by frontman Roland Pierrehumbert, and believe it or not was originally a classic Heavy Metal group called GENOCIDE. Sadly, their short-lived career in GENOCIDE ended in the 90’s, but, happily, they continued playing music under a different name and with a different style. Thus, SIDEBURN was born. Their newest album release, “#Eight,” marks- you guessed it- the group’s eighth full-length album since their formation. Over the years, they’ve built up musical expertise and an impressive repertoire of live shows. The band has opened for DEF LEPPARD, THIN LIZZY, MOTÖRHEAD, and that’s just to name a few. Some say rock is dead- however, that won’t be the case if SIDEBURN has anything to say about it.

“All the While” opens with a Bluesy, kicking beat and Pierrehumbert’s breathy, dynamic vocals. It’s a classic Hard Rock banger, and perfectly embodies SIDEBURN’s sleazy, wailing style. The guitars are chugging and rhythmic, the solo reaches unimagianble heights, and honestly that’s all I can say. This track introduces the band’s Hard Rock groove with a band and seductively invites the listener in for more. “Call Me a Doctor” is very, very Trad-Rock. The guitar riffs are used mostly as a percussive element, and cut in and out over a steady drum rhythm in order to keep the listener on their toes. The vocals here took on a bit of Lemmy’s style, which is unsurprising since they had the opportunity to play with MOTÖRHEAD (the lucky bastards). The best part, I thought, was the rollicking guitar and bass riffs which underlay the other instruments and added depth and a defined groove. In “Turn Away,” my first thought was that this song was pretty much the glorious lovechild of THIN LIZZY and AC/DC. The stop-and-go guitar riffs were undoubtedly a tip of the hat to the classic rockers in AC/DC, but even with all the similarities there, SIDEBURN did more than just recycle old Rock riffs. They have their own aura and swaggering, confident style about them which is the perfect match for the style of music they play. “Drop Zone” starts out with an acoustic, almost folksy intro before Pierrehumbert blasts in with his gravelly whispers and layered vocals. While this song took some time to build up to its climax in the chorus, it still managed to bring the same level of danger and heaviness that the previous songs did. Despite the guitar riffs in the verse, which became a bit repetitive, this song was still musically and technically solid, and showcased the band’s rather impressive versatility.

“Get Your Ride On” is a sexy Rock n’ Roll anthem which is blatantly about, well, riding certain things. It’s a rhythmic, swinging song which begs to be sung to, and the distorted solo is there to impress, pure and simple, with a roller coaster of notes and sizzling pickwork. Though not the most complex of songs, it’s catchy, thumping, and makes the listener want to sing along. In “No More Room in Hell,” the vocals and guitar riffs perform a dangerous, enticing dance together in the struggle to take center stage. Pierrehumbert’s voice is something special- he manages to blend classic, Rock and Punk influenced hollers with more subdued, but still powerful, Blues guitar, bass, and drums. In this particular track, which was one of my favorites, all of the instruments are given their own chance to shine, and the powerful rhythmic undertones blended everything together into the perfect mix.

“Driving on the Main Line” almost seems like it draws influence from old Southern Rock, like LYNYRD SKYNYRD. The traditional drumbeat and ringing, groove-heavy guitar riffs establish a strong rhythmic backbone for the song, and the addition of a harmonica track in the background cements the slightly Country vibe. I loved the quirkiness of the harmonica solo here, followed directly by what was the epitome of a classic Rock guitar solo. In “Give Me a Sign,” the band again utilizes the same chugging AC/DC-esque guitar riff- (“Highway to Hell” came to mind when I heard the intro for the first time) and in this track especially, Pierrehumbert sounds like the reincarnation of Brian Johnson. Though this song is almost a little too much like AC/DC, it’s irresistibly catchy and musically flawless. Quite literally, it could be plugged into any AC/DC album and nobody would notice that it wasn’t written and performed by the Hard Rock mega-group themselves. “Long Road to Paradise” has that same rugged Southern groove and bare-bones drumbeat that SIDEBURN utilizes in so many of their songs. I did like the style of this track- it’s definitely one of those songs that should be played as you’re roaring down the road in your motorcycle and leather jacket- however, I would say it walks the line between Country and Rock, and I would’ve liked to see a bit less Country.

“Save Your Soul” introduces itself with a ringing guitar riff and a thumping, distinctive drum rhythm. The chanted chorus adds a fun element and gives the song a relaxed tone and party anthem feel. The cowbell is a classic element in many Rock songs, and I was pleasantly surprised by its addition here. It was a bit of comic relief, I’d like to think, but created diversity in the track without sacrificing musical integrity. The next track, “Got to Move On,” is a bit slower-paced than the songs before it, especially in the intro: however, that’s not to say that it should be given any less recognition. The vocals in this track take on a quality that makes it seem like Pierrehumbert is reciting something under his breath, which made it a great deal more interesting, and the guitar melodies meld together into a swooping harmony. The chorus is highly singable here, and personally I think this song would be a great choice for another single.

The last track, “No Class,” is a homage to who else but the original king of Hard Rock, Lemmy Kilmister. Now, I’ve heard the MOTÖRHEAD song before, and frankly it was eerie how similar SIDEBURN sounded to them. Don’t get me wrong- the production quality was far better, and they managed to insert some of their contagious energy into the song to revamp it- I just think it’s impressive how much they sound alike. Overall, I think that SIDEBURN is an extremely talented force to be reckoned with. They’re keeping Rock n’ Roll alive with the boundless energy and years of musical experience they bring to the scene. Now, it’s hard to make a genre like classic Hard Rock new and unique, and sometimes the group falls into the trap of sounding a little too similar to their inspirations. However, that doesn’t undermine the sheer talent that’s there.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 6
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. All the While
2. Call Me a Doctor
3. Turn Away
4. Drop Zone
5. Get Your Ride On
6. No More Room in Hell
7. Driving on the Main Line
8. Give Me a Sign
9. Long Road to Paradise
10. Save Your Soul
11. Got to Move On
12. No Class
Roland Pierrehumbert- Vocals/ Harmonica
Mikaël Riffart- Guitar/ Backing Vocals
Lawrence Lina- Guitar/ Backing Vocals
Lionel Blanc- Drums/ Backing Vocals
Nick Thornton- Bass/ Backing Vocals
Record Label: Fastball Records


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