What happens when you combine ex-Primal Fear members with classic rock meets rockabilly meets the blues? You get the strangely enjoyable Nitrogods project. Having released their self titled effort in 2012, the band started work on what would become this current release almost instantly, making sure by the time it was recorded, the full on dirty rock n roll would be ready for everyone’s enjoyment. As the band themselves have said – “We realise that we’re not going to reinvent the wheel with this kind of music, but at least we’re putting some new tires on it!” So with that, let’s take it out for a spin.
The title track opens the album and instantly you can feel the classic rock vibe from the first few seconds. The vocals are very Lemmy-like with that distinct sneer and gravelly tone to them, and over the simple, high octane feel guitar it works brilliantly. It’s got a great riff which draws you in and it’s just a song which makes you feel good whilst listening to it. “Got Pride” has a sleazy blues feel to it as it opens. The rockabilly feel is more noticeable on this track with its bouncy rhythm and the vocals are still rough but that’s what makes it work. There is a lot going on with the guitar, but the simple bass and drums lock it all down in place and keep it going. The solo is quite hectic and doesn’t quite seem to fit, but the rhythm section as mentioned just makes it work. “Irish Honey” keeps up with the blues feel. It’s got an upbeat simple guitar hook which contrasts well to the more sombre gravelly vocals. It’s the type of song you’d expect to hear in a film scene where the main character is being a loner and nursing a stiff drink in a bar alone. Its jut got that downtrodden vibe, but sounds so happy at the same time.
“Automobile” brings back the fast paced feel. With a more southern-blues approach to begin with vocally, it quickly gets dirty and the lower mixed instruments really let the singing stand out. The simple repeating riffs with some clever slide guitar lines mixed in to make it sound like a race car in parts is a nice touch too. “Damn Right (They Call it Rock n Roll)” follows up with a pounding bass line and nicely worked guitar solo. Everything about this song just screams Motörhead – the title, the bass, the slick guitar work and steady drums. If you’d never heard the band before, you’d think it was a Motörhead track! The bass solo break works a treat and the rest is just no nonsense rock n roll! “Nothing But Trouble” has a grittier guitar tone, like hard rock meets blues. The vocals are less Lemmy like and more raw and the gratuitous use of slide guitar to add some feeling to the simple groove is great. It’s quite an enjoyable track and something you can kick back and just listen to, nodding along in approval.
“Back Home” has a very Thin Lizzy styled vibe to it from the off (think ‘Emerald’). The almost jig-like feel at times is enjoyable and it shows a return to the rockabilly feel. There’s some interesting guitar/bass duelling in the middle of the song which precedes a brilliantly worked classic rock styled solo. “Dirty Old Man” has that rockabilly-blues feel to it.. Like a hillbilly AC/DC. The simple rock approach with the bouncy feel and the gravelly vocals make this a fun sounding track and live, I could imagine a lot of people moving to this one! The little lead licks in the chorus add some bite where needed and the bouncy feel solo tops it all off. “Ramblin’ Broke” has a sleazy vibe to it. The slow paced blues riffs drives the song on and the gravelly singing (more blues than Lemmy) makes this one a real laid back track. It’s the kind of track you can just sit back to with a beer in hand and nod in approval to, occasionally joining in with the chorus if you feel the need to. Vocally, it’s probably the best track on the album for me.
“BMW” starts off with the sound of a car starting, but if you were expecting a Highway Star effort, think again. This bounces right into a full-pelt rockabilly number about an ode to the BMW. The guitar and bass work brilliantly in this one – the bass locking it all down whilst the guitar adds some flavour, and bonus points for the 60’s version of the Batman theme added in there too! It’s a fun song, like most of this album. “Lite Bite” brings the return of the slide guitar and the Lemmy styled vocals over a chugging rhythm. The hard rock feel of this track to me is a welcome change to the rockabilly vibe as it snarls its way through with gritty sounding blues rhythms and sleazy sounding slide work in the solo. “Nitrogods” is the penultimate track and it has that fast paced drum beat kicking it off over an echo-like sounding guitar and bass groove. The stripped back, upbeat rock number has that driving feel to it and will have you nodding along to it and the frantic sounding rockabilly lead section towards the end of the song adds some flair to the relatively simple track. “Whiskey Supernova” closes the album and it keeps the tempo up with a fast paced rock feeling. Sounding like another Motörhead track, but less heavy it does its job in tipping its hat to the bands influences whilst still remaining something unique sounding and it wraps the album up nicely.
I’m not really a fan of the rockabilly style, but “Rats and Rumours” is certainly a fun listen and one of those albums which will get your attention. I would have liked a more straight up rock approach, but like the band said, this was just them changing the tires on the wheel instead of trying to re-invent it. It’s worth a listen.