Songs of Iron

Trucker Diablo's second album is an intoxicating cocktail of rock hooks and stadium-sized choruses

Despite being a generation-spanning, lifestyle-defining genre of music for many, it's fair to say that rock music – of the old fashioned, riff-heavy variety – has fallen out of mainstream favour in recent years, despite Northern Ireland having a proven track record of producing world class rock artists such as guitarists Vivian Campbell and Ricky Warwick.

While it's a shame that rock is now seen by many as kitsch and outdated, it's also heartening to see that many bands from Northern Ireland continue to kick out the jams regardless. One act that has kept the faith (and their eyes firmly on the road) is Trucker Diablo, who have been making stages shake and stereos quake across Europe and further afield since forming in 2008.

Songs Of Iron is the four-piece's latest studio album, and it features an intoxicating cocktail of classic rock hooks, satisfyingly crunchy riffs and stadium-sized choruses.

Released worldwide via Ripple Music, the record is a more confident beast than their debut, The Devil Rhythm, and sees the band admirably rise to the challenge of producing that difficult second album.

Songs of Iron opens with 'Red Light On' (and I don't think they're talking about a stop sign). The track is built around a simple riff in the vein of Rose Tattoo, and starts things off in a suitably riotous way.

Business really picks up on second track 'Year Of The Truck' though, arguably one of Trucker Diablo's finest musical moments to date. A big, brash, anthemic tune, here meaty guitars, chugging riffs and fist in the air hooks are the order of the day. 'Year of the Truck' is destined to be the four-piece's calling card for a very long time to come.

'Drive' is another undeniable highlight, a radio-friendly number that features a feel-good chorus and sees Trucker Diablo wear their Thin Lizzy influences on their sleeves. Melodic, catchy as hell and perfectly-paced, the track showcases the Trucker boys at the peak of their powers and firing on all cylinders.

Elsewhere, 'Bulldozer' is the album's most metal moment, boasting snarling guitars, rumbling bass and a 1990s era Metallica-style song structure, while 'I Wanna Party With You' is as fun as the title suggests and could very well be destined for hit status on college radios the length and breadth of the land.

Featuring 14 tracks in total, Songs Of Iron is, perhaps, a little long, and the Southern rock, Lynard Skynardisms of 'Highway Radio' don't really work for these ears, but there's a bravery and a sense of ambition to this album that reverberates from the speakers, and which is both infectious and admirable.

Evidently not averse to taking risks, the band even debut a power ballad in the form of 'Maybe You're The One' that has just the right amount of sweetness and spice. It's an unexpected addition to the Trucker catalogue, and that in itself is a good thing.

Lyrically, Songs Of Iron revolves around tried and tested rock tropes of fast cars and loose girls and, depending on your viewpoint, it's either a clichéd or classic approach. For this reviewer's money, opting to side step the nudge-nudge, wink-wink schtick favoured by many modern rock acts is a wise decision, and the record, as a result, has a defiant 'love us or leave us alone' vibe throughout.

Pound for pound a more enjoyable opus that their debut, Songs Of Iron is the product of a band who are just starting out on their musical journey, one that could yet take them on a similar journey to that enjoyed by Downpatrick stadium rockers, The Answer. I for one am up for the ride.

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