Album review: WIG WAM – Never Say Die

Frontiers Records [Release date 22.01.21]

Much of today’s melodic rock’n'roll has degenerated into pro-tooled, prefabricated, flatpack assembly blandness. So it’s a genuine joy to hear Wigwam’s Never Say Die, their first release since reforming in 2020. It’s a relentless powerhouse of hard rock immediacy, capturing all the raw energy and punky vibe of their stage show. And still, throughout, they maintain an ever present air of detached cool, while cranking up the rhetoric and the guitars to deliver hulking rock songs – sweetened by insanely effortless hooks – like ‘Shadows Of Eternity’ and ‘Dirty Little Sectets’.

The opening instrumental, ‘The Second Crusade’, cleverly catches us off guard, taking us briefly into the world of Vangelis and Blade Runner. Then the stomping, riff heavy title track, framed by a tuneful wail and a crunching hook takes us straight back into the here and now.

It’s not a perfect album, few are. It runs on fumes at times. But that is more than compensated by the material’s engagingly melodic lyricism. When writing and recording songs like the poppy, soft centred ‘Silver Lining’ and the balladic ‘My Kaleidescope’, they ensure the warmth of the music gets just as much attention as the volcanic riffing and the punchy, pulsing rhythms.

The picks are hard to choose. Contenders are many. Throughout the album, Trond Holter’s guitar bites and stings; Age Sten Nilsen’s vocals emote confidence and conviction. They combine particularly impressively on ‘Hypnotised’. One launching it with a spring loaded, needle-in-the-red riff, the other spraying barbed lyrics around like an Uzi on auto. That said, ‘Call Of The Wild’ is impossible to avoid. You will keep going back to it.

Had Wigwam been part of the First Wave of Glam Metal, then in comparison, you might well have branded the music of fellow travellers, Motley Crue and Poison as grimy and transgressive. Wigwam play it straight, walking a high wire between hard rock, pop and metal, grabbing onto the best from all sides, getting the balance just right. Welcome back. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

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From 1 December the Featured Albums and Power Play segments will reflect those artists and tracks featured during 2021.

Featured Albums w/c 15 November 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 MEMORIA AVENUE Memoria Avenue (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 FANS OF THE DARK Fans Of The Dark (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 HANNAH JAMES & TOBY KUHN Sleeping Spirals (Jigdoll Records)

Power Plays w/c 15 November 2021 (Mon-Fri)

THE FORGOTTEN Interstellar (FiXT Noir)
QUILL Riding Rainbows (indie)
DEAD REYNOLDS Uninspired (The Fort)
CAVALCADE Dreaming About (Golden Robot)
HANNAH ALDRIDGE Sinking (indie)
GREYHAVEN All Candy (Rude Records)

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