RAGDOLL – Back To Zero (2016)
Australian Perth-based rockers RAGDOLL have been one of this blog’s favorites for the last few years (check their albums reviewed) and now their new album “Back To Zero” is available for pre-order via the link below. The CD release date is May 6th.
There’s a blissful chill you get as a fan when a band you’ve followed for a long time elevates its music to a new level, exceeding any high expectations and even higher hopes you’ve nurtured for them. Seriously: you better hold on to your damn hats, your damn hair, and your damn butts, because Ragdoll’s “Back To Zero” rocks woth a kickin’ punch.
Ryan Rafferty is (and not ‘maybe’) one of the best rock vocalists out there right now. He’s got strong, powerful pipes with an earthy, warm tone that can do anything, anytime, anywhere. (And he’s crushing it on bass too.) Leon Todd is a guitar-marvel. On this album, he creates some subtle and intricate guitar-beauties, as well as hard rocking riffs that rip and roar.
Then there’s Cam Barrett on drums, and this album shows off his chops in grand style.
The album starts off with the title track ‘Back To Zero’ – an instrumental intro that evokes Carl Sagan’s Cosmos with its trembling, spatial vibe. After that comes ‘Shine’, with Rafferty’s vocals gliding and soaring above the music. It’s a track that showcases one of the best things about this album: it keeps things bone-rumbling and heavy, while never allowing the melody and lyrics to get lost in the sound and fury.
‘Playing God’ is another jaw-dropping, hard-rocking beauty: a head banger of a track that lets loose a beautiful barrage of guitars, bass and drums.
The band then launches into ‘The World You Gave Us’ – a tune with piercing lyrics and a passionate guitar solo. Towards the end Ragdoll cranks the music all the way up to 11, shaking my innards in the best way possible.
The trippy ‘Rewind Your Mind’ has another fistful of ferocious guitar-riffs jangling in its pockets, and like every tune here, it demonstrates Ragdoll’s exceptional lyrics: intense, emotional, cerebral, inventive… words matter on this album alongside the rocking riffs.
‘Letting Go’ is another stunner, starting off with a flash of guitar-magic before unleashing Rafferty’s powerful and pitch-perfect vocals.
‘Dreaming Out Loud’, like so much of the album, harks back musically to the hard rock of the ’80s with a distinctive Aerosmith flavour. ‘Save Me’ changes things up, with complex timing changes switching from straight out rock to an almost funky groove courtesy of Ryan Rafferty’s sublime bass playing. It took a few listens to really appreciate this song, and I’m glad I didn’t discount it right away as it’s a highlight.
To catch Ragdoll in their best ’80s mode, check out ‘Love On The Run’, infusing that golden-age hairspray- and spandex-sound with their own pulse and heartbeat, giving it new life. And that chorus? Is pure Rafferty vocal brilliance.
Ot taste Todd’s low crunching guitar on ‘The Last Time’, this song conjures up Sammy Hagar era Van Halen, yet fits perfectly in 2016.
I have been following Ragdoll’s career since their origins. As far as I’m concerned they should be all over the frigging airwaves and playing the biggest arenas, because they are so talented that deserve major exposure. Every release from Ragdoll has impressed me, and this one is the best one yet: rich, heavy, glossy in all the right places, rough in the right spots, and an all-around sweeping offering of rock and roll.
Ragdoll has pulled off quite the nifty magic trick with “Back To Zero”: making an album that is both heavier and more melodic than anything the band has done before. It’s quite a feat, but then this is a trio that is just bursting with skill and talent.
01 – Back To Zero
02 – Shine
03 – Playing God
04 – The World You Gave Us
05 – Rewind Your Mind
06 – The Last Time
07 – Letting Go
08 – Dreaming Out Loud
09 – Save Me
10 – Love On The Run
11 – Kungfoolery
Ryan Rafferty – Vocals, Bass
Leon Todd – Guitars, Backing vocals
Cam Barrett – Drums