As a writer, I often look for a hook to use to frame my reviews. Truck/ vehicle. Hurricane/ weather. Which one…? Why not both!
Trucker Diablo hails from Northern Island and would be no strangers to interesting weather conditions. Formed in 2008, they have released an album every two years since 2011. Their brand of quality hard rock is somewhat legendary.
Let’s fire up this angry 18 wheeler and take it for a spin!
“Btkor” (Big truck keep on rolling)
From the outset, this one blasted forth with driving riffs. (That said, finding driving riffs on this album is like finding a Toyota in a Coles car park.) I immediately got the impression of motion. The twanging bass added a further sense of movement. Their sound was immediately accessible, with clear, clever and engaging vocals.
My foot was tapping. This was compelling.
As it progressed, this track held its breath, like the calm before the storm, before a wailing guitar solo pealed, with rumbling riffs blowing in.
Trucker Diablo elegantly displayed what they are all about.
“I Am Still Alive”
This anthemic and quite beautiful track was extremely relevant, announcing that we’re still here after the bananavirus. It opened with a slower tempo and was more melodic in sound. The vocals came to the fore and the harmonies were very well done.
It was plaintive and attention grabbing in character. I particularly enjoyed the guitar in the background of the chorus.
Trucker Diablo showed with this track that they have more options than a Hyundai.
“Rock Kids of the 80s”
Being one, this one grabbed me by my double denim and didn’t let go. With lyrics referenced from Rick Springfield, Motley Crüe and Billy Idol, it enthralled me as I listened for other references and where they were going with this idea.
It was as clever as assisted parking and it spoke about this music being “the voices of the people”. No arguments here!
It felt like an 80s song, but with a contemporary twist – like the new Minis. Faithful to the intent of the original, but with new features. It shifted and flowed like an 8 speed gearbox and served to connect me even more closely to this record.
“Don’t Hold onto Hate”
As expected, this was a track about… not holding onto hate. (Road ragers should DEFINITELY take heed.) It opened with a choppy guitar style and included lyrics such as, “I’ll pick you up, when you’re on the ground.”
The guitars backed off a bit, allowing the vocals to be more apparent. This was a masterful move. The chord progression was in itself uplifting and there was a fabulous section in which the bass line and percussion swirled around, before the guitar tempest blew in.
“Set the Night on Fire”
Time for a ballad? Nup. Because, “Tonight’s the night we’ll rip it up” and “Your dynamite is the air that I breathe…” Nice!
This was a party song, with appropriately raucous guitar. I got a sense of unity, of being together with great friends for a night on the town. Like a great night out, this track built, slowed, then built again.
“Tail End of a Hurricane”
This track opened with an intricate guitar sound that was like blues rock. As it rollicked along, clever writing again abounded, with lots of layers present – like a cold front over Tasmania. It went up and down in tempo, hurricane-like. Funny, that.
It was not what I expected, as this was a love song – “She’s on fire, she burns up my heart” and “I’ll never change my tail end of a hurricane”.
This was the hybrid car of the album – punk, fused with hard rock/metal, that tackled social issues like keyboard warriors and “posers that are fake as shit”. It was sufficiently angry and derisive, in your face and up your bum. In the nicest possible way.
It also included reference to the “it’s ok to not be ok” movement. It had attitude in abundance, with its punk tone against the backdrop of social commentary.
“The Edge of Tonight”
With its simple opening of one guitar and a slow tempo, was this a ballad? Nup. A love song, because “I’ll watch the sunset in your eyes” and “We’ll hold our breath as we’re holding hands”.
This track was heartfelt and precisely penned, constructed with care.
I was intrigued by, “I’ll take you to the edge tonight.” The edge of… Comfort? The world? Reasonableness?
A thick guitar ending anchored this track. Maybe THAT was The Edge.
An intricate, melodic guitar opening immediately had me seeing the video to Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”. It had a strong Western theme. The riffs were intense, without being obvious. The track sped up unexpectedly, like when that second turbo kicks in.
This track finished with a great guitar outtro – the slowly diminishing guitars gave it significant weight.
“This Burning Heart”
All swank and swagger, this track was unhurried in its delivery.
With love again as it’s central theme, it was somewhat comforting in its composition. But, listening to the levels of sound, there was further satisfaction to be had in the engineering of it, particularly in the exquisitely timed guitar flourishes.
The gradual thickening of sound snuck up on me – like a Prius. Those quiet little bastards are in you before you know it. They are sneaky AF.
“Woodstock to Vietnam”
This track had a very different opening, with the riffs holding the final note to add to the emotion of the topic – the dichotomy and clashes of lifestyles and political beliefs.
The premise proved to be fertile ground for lyrics, as they focussed on and blended war, peace and protest, like, “If you hear those soldiers cry, raise your hands.”
The aforementioned riff rang out throughout, continuing to add a powerful sense of purpose.
Another sublime riff got this race going and it served as a template for the mischief that followed.
The lyrics included mention of the conflicting messages that surround dancing, like “it’s getting hot in here” and “it’s going to get physical”. It proved to be a clever take on something that we all do and probably have taken for granted.
“Bury the Ocean”
A remarkable shift in tempo was used to close out this record, with the chords let ring out. It felt like sorrow or regret. The percussion and bass shone through and I waited for the guitar Prius to arrive. Yep, it snuck up again, but it struck me this time. Again, the Prius is as sneaky AF.
The guitar solo and accompanying riffs were supercharged, adding further emotional density. A long instrumental section at the end of the track enabled the album to drive off into the sunset.
This was an epic ride, winding its way through a beautiful, yet sometimes challenging, landscape.
There was enough variation to prick my ears in terms of instrumentation and tempo, rather than bombarding me with the same sounds endlessly. However, don’t think that the intensity let up, it just shifted gears from time to time. Like driving a Porsche, there were no unpleasant moments and it held my attention all the way through.
The vocals were clear and easy to access. The guitars were the stars and deservedly so. The percussion and bass were not quite as obvious, but probably by design.
Indeed, it was formulaic, but classically so – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Monstrous riffs were partnered with cleverly infectious choruses and cleverly crafted lyrics, making each track and the album a delightful driving experience.