To say that this, the follow-up to their (initially self-released) debut, ‘The Devil Rhythm’, has been one of the most eagerly anticipated releases in this particular part of the world – that’s Norn Iron, for those of you who don’t know – is one of the hugest understatements in the history of huge understatements. But, finally, after a year of graft and toil, so typical of the band, Trucker Diablo have rolled back into town with this juggernaut of a sophomore album.
Right from the off, this is one Big Truck which is an unstoppable force, running with its ‘Red Light On’, which is built on a bass riff so heavy that it clears everything for miles in its path (you can’t know how glad so many Trucker fans are that four-string machine Glenn Harrison doing a Samson didn’t result him doing a Samson) and typical attitude-drenched geetars from the twin six-string attack of Tom Harte and Simon Haddock. ‘Year Of The Truck’ is a fist-punching, anthemic singalong statement of intent, much in the vein of ‘Drink Beer, Destroy’ and ‘Juggernaut’ from their debut.
‘The Rebel’ is a hard-assed rawk ‘n’ brawl love song, a paean to the diehard, runaway spirit of the quartet’s idols, Thin Lizzy, while ‘Drive’ is by far the most commercial song the boys have written – which, of course, is why it has been chosen as the lead single and is picking up considerable airplay as a result – while ‘Not So Superstar’ is a middle-finger raisin’, ass-kickin’ venomous attack on the Simon Cowell-school of “music”.
As a band known for their hard-driving anthems, the Trucker boys took many fans by surprise when they announced that they were recording a ballad, but ‘Maybe You’re The One’ is just as powerful as anything else on ‘Songs Of Iron’, and certainly has enough metal in its marrow to show that this particular truck is not running out of gas.
As if to prove the point, ‘Bulldozer’ does exactly what its title suggests – ploughing straight out of the speakers with another hard as nails riff, underpinned by the engine room of Harrison and drummer Terry Crawford, who once again proves that he is one of the best timekeepers in the business and the powerhouse that keeps the axles turning on this diabolic wagon.
‘Rock Hallelujah’ is a glorious tribute to the truly empowering nature of heavy rock music – the almost religious experience which it can be for both fans and performers alike – and is another track with huge single potential: like some of the other tracks, both on here and on ‘The Devil Rhythm’, some of the lyrics may seem simplistic and even clichéd, but they are delivered in typical Norn Oirish style – with tongues very firmly planted in cheeks – and with a commitment and passion that shines through with a conviction that is as infectious as it is passionate.
I’ve already referred to the influence of Thin Lizzy on the Trucker Diablo sound: their sound is also very firmly rooted in the deep south of the USofA, and the suvern-infused boogie’ of Highway Radio’ could easily stand alongside anything produced by .38 Special or Blackfoot with its laidback drawling melody and harmony vocals, while the ironically monickered ‘When It’s Gonna Rain’ could sit proudly on a Black Stone Cherry album: indeed, this latter assertion could be applied to many of the 14 tracks on ‘Songs Of Iron’ with one very important caveat – the Trucker boys would kick Chris Robertson and his boys (and a multitude of other pussy-asses) up and down the M1 without breaking a sweat… just as well we’re peaceable folks around here…
I suppose I should have mentioned that I’m a huge fan of Trucker Diablo: they’re good, honest, down-to-earth hard-working musicians who put their everything into what they do. ‘Songs Of Iron’ demonstrates this, in spades, and as the Big Truck Keeps On Rollin’ I suggest you either jump aboard or get out of the muthafuckin’ way!
- Red Light On
- Year Of The Truck
- The Rebel
- Not So Superstar
- The Streets Run Red
- Lie To Me
- Maybe You’re The One
- Rock Hallelujah
- Highway Radio
- When’s It Gonna Rain?
- Shame On You
- I Wanna Party With You
‘Songs Of Iron’ is released via Ripple Music on May 15th.
The official launch party takes place at the Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill, on Saturday May 18th. Tickets cost £6 and are available from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/216743. A return ‘beer bus’ from Belfast to Ahoghill is also available: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/216744. Before that, you can catch Trucker Diablo at Dicey Riley’s in Strabane this Saturday (April 20th).
The ‘Big Truck’ also rolls into the Steelhouse Festival in Ebbw Vale on Sunday July 28th: http://www.steelhousefestival.com/
Band photographs by Planet Mosh’s own Marc Leach: http://www.marcleachphotography.com