(Frontiers Music Srl)
Release Date: 19th February 2016
Inglorious appeared on the radar in 2015 causing quite a stir with their brand of classic and vintage hard rock done the old fashioned organic way, influenced by, but never exactly imitating the greats.
With this debut album under their belt ready for release, and two singles receiving decent airplay the industry accolades have already started to accumulate, including my own Best Of 2015 list in the Best New Band category.
Frontman Nathan James gets a lot of attention, quite rightly as his vocals are incredible. He’s also the most familiar face in the band, having been a vocalist for Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Uli Jon Roth and appearing on the reality show ‘Superstar’ – but the rest of the band are certainly not in his shadow.
With rhythm guitarist Wil Taylor, lead guitarist Andreas Eriksson, bassist Colin Parkinson, and drummer Phil Beaver, Inglorious are a proper band, looking and sounding great and creating a product that manages to be more than the sum of its parts.
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This self-titled debut was deliberately tracked live with no click tracks or auto-tune, intending to capture the moment and present the energy and vibe felt at the time of recording.
‘Inglorious’ is truly a collaborative effort, with the band producing and also writing the material, with a few high calibre guest writers - Al Pitrelli (Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Joel Hoekstra (Night Ranger, Whitesnake) and Neil Fairclough (Queen).
We are off to a strong start as the momentum builds with some keyboard-dominated noodling, all coming together after ninety seconds with for the opening riff of ‘Until I Die’, a real belter of an opening track with The impact continues with ‘Breakaway’ a radio-friendly track that lands with a bang.
On to ‘High Flying Gypsy’ which has a riff with echoes of ‘Kashmir’ and a Sabbath vibe in the bridge but overlaid with a distinctive vocal melody giving the track depth and interest, one of those where you notice new things on each listen.
There’s no surprise that track four is of a slower tempo, going with the long established principle of track listing, and here we have the magnificent bluesy ‘Holy Water’ that could have been a lost Bad Company track.
So far so good, but is this album just 70s hard rock by numbers? Merely built from a kit out of tried and true formulas? No, I wouldn’t say that at all. It’s no more formulaic than beer, in that you need to have certain ingredients in place and work them a certain way to have the product – fermenting grains and water in this example, but the finished product has infinite variations.
I once drank some Russian beer – voluntarily and out of interest as I hadn’t seen any before. Well, it only took a couple of sips to understand why Russia is renowned for vodka not beer... it was about as far removed as you could get from one of those delicious artisan craft beers from Brewdog and the like, even though the method was probably very similar at a basic level.
And so it is with this album - it’s head and shoulders above a lot of debuts, being made of quality ingredients, heartfelt, has emotional connection and it is brilliantly crafted.
The songs are full of texture with bridges and interludes that keep things interesting, changes in tempo and excellent use of space and the performances throughout demonstrate a maturity beyond the band’s years.
It’s also one of those albums that you want to sing along to but it’s not actually that easy – as demonstrated by the next track ‘Warning’ with its pulsating energy. From the opening scream the pitch stays pretty high, and technically this is not for the faint-hearted. Although you could feel a bit faint trying to keep up with that key and tempo – Nathan James is going to have to remain match fit to tour this album.
‘Bleed For You’ is immense, starting with acoustic guitar and is the big TSO-like power ballad, theatrical in the best sense. It’s an eyes closed, swaying, swooping anthem designed to be played very loud – bliss.
‘Girl Got A Gun’ starts with a Floyd-esque opening arpeggio but quickly becomes an altogether more standard rocker, a very satisfactory track, the hard driving vibe continuing with ‘You’re Mine’.
There’s no danger of forgetting the band’s name as the next cut is ‘Inglorious’ from ‘Inglorious’ by Inglorious. Having a theme song is a bit of a masterstroke, especially when it is as anthemic as this one, full of confidence and self-belief with some beautiful harmonies and effects.
‘Wake’ is a ballad with some Americana influence but thankfully not soppy at all, and one that is just begging to be heard on one of those big HBO or Showtime drama series, this is serious quality, and comes with lashings of soul.
Closing track ‘Unaware’ starts with some charming piano before erupting into yet another belting hard rock number which ends with a sudden flourish, like a triumphant fist-pump – well deserved.
The album is pretty much an instant classic. The dictionary definition of Inglorious is shameful, disgraceful, dishonourable, and this is the only bit that seems out of place as the opposite is true – maybe a bit of reverse psychology at play, who knows.
Fast forward a few albums from now with a solid catalogue, some memorable tours and the development of something that is uniquely Inglorious to add to the mix and this band could well join the ranks of the greats.
For now, this is an album that I will probably never get tired of hearing. A stunning debut.