22 March 2015

Thunder - Wonder Days

With a resonating name like Thunder, it's a fair bet that a hard rock band will always have some sort of musical punch. Nowadays as far as I see, hard rock on the whole sadly seems to take a back seat to its more popular cousin in alternative, but as a schoolboy brought up on the former stuff, it'll always have a place in my heart. As Eddie Carter mentioned in his appraisal of their debut album, (read the blog in this link here) they have churned out some potentially world beating rock numbers such as Love Walked In, and my personal favourite Castles In The Sand. However, I believe we're both in agreement that they've never truly stepped up the level and realised that potential.

I have downloaded a couple of their tracks and on occasion I do follow their progress on their Facebook page, albeit occasionally I admit ashamedly. As far as I understand, guitarist Ben Matthews, as announced by Danny Bowes (very fine rock singer by the way) has been recovering from a recent cancer treatment, so fingers, toes and all other extremities crossed of course, even finding time to record a brand spanking new album in Wonder Days. The sleeve looks iconic, it's been clearly lifted from forty years ago, and so easily could've passed off in the book Kes. And if my knowledge on pushbikes serves me well, there's a Raleigh Chopper on show too, almost a winner for me!

They've had a couple of brief sojourns in between the twenty five or more years they've been together, and from what I've read, Thunder have alternated between the hard and blues rock moniker, and opening title track as well as the whole album seems to stay faithful to the former. I would've liked to have seen how they've tackled Blues but seemingly not here. Still, the opening title track's a promising one set in stone if the rock rulebook is not to be readjusted. Likewise in the next track The Thing I Want, it's very old skool reunion (I overuse the term admittedly), smacks of AC/DC, and ok, Danny is in his fifties and can't reach alto too many times now, still it's instantly forgiveable. Another assured number. Third song is The Rain, a semi-acoustical mandolin led and unplugged number before it gets a bit rockier towards the end, but enjoyable for me nevertheless.

No big changes to the order on Black Water, it's very soulful in fact if a little pedestrian, the onus is on the narrative so not enough to dip well below par. Seemingly my prayers are answered with the very meaty offering from The Prophet, it's very Joan Jett and catchy, this narrative is possibly the album's top track contender, the beat's very dominant in proceedings. Now midpoint of Wonder Days and there's Resurrection Day, where it's, well it would be really damning to describe it as mundane, the riffwork keeps its originality, if I'm frank it doesn't do much for me. There are some brief chorus harmonies in Chasing Shadows, it runs assured enough and enough to hold my attention in the four minutes. No deserving rock album doesn't seem complete without its ballad section and it's no exception here with Broken, piano led and close knit harmonies, and it runs pretty reasonable, the change of chords in the bridge does keep things on the boil.

So, a little pep in the four minute tracked mix with When The Music Played, it keeps the same old skool rock format, a little extra track is thrown midpoint, it's basically a retro bit of storytelling throughout. Now for the introductory acoustical Serpentine before the full quintet begin firing on all eight cylinders and I'm threatening to enjoy this! Why? I'm guessing it's the blues based layering I've endeared to and basically because it's so lively! So, a little standout number from me. And it's the same from the closing track I Love The Weekend. There's nothing complicated about the whole shebang, it's basically a three chord rock n' roll number, and I will concede it's possibly the best way to bring down the curtain.

I kind of grew out of rock about the nineties where I began to accept metal as being very listenable, so for me it's been a bit of a short sharp shock to climb back down the thrash ladder. My biggest concern is that is it a case that Wonder Days has been written in the wrong time of the wrong era? I can't answer yes or no at present, and it seems the jury can't retire to reach its verdict, so best to keep an open mind over it. I can see the path see where Thunder haven't made too many alterations in their arrangements over the twenty five or thirty years they've been together. It's old skool rock at its most basic level I can vouch for, and still plenty of evidence to suggest that old rockers never die. Still several good ideas floating about in Wonder Days admittedly, but not quite enough to elevate it to dizzying heights. At worst, it's on a par with the assured Backstreet Symphony though still not enough for Thunder to step off the rung as perennial underachievers.

5 out of ten. It could have been a bit better.
Best track : The Prophet

Buy the album here on Amazon
Listen to Wonder Days here on Spotify
Deezer listeners can alternatively click on this link
Official Facebook page here
Official Website here

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