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Dead City Ruins: Never Say Die

I first encountered Dead City Ruins when they opened for Skid Row and Ugly Kid Joe back in 2013, the Australians also releasing two albums along the way, although neither really captured the impressive live energy this band from Australia undoubtedly possess. Here to redress that balance is Never Say Die, a record that plunges deep into the past without ever sounding like pastiche or scene chasing. Instead the immediate steam train of opener “Devil Man” lands with a groove so gargantuan that you can’t quite take it all in. With singer Jake Wiffen borrowing the phrasing of early solo-era Ozzy and throwing in a few air shattering screams for good measure, there’s a strong Sabbath vibe, but the twin guitar assault also lends an obvious link to Thin Lizzy. Although when “We Are One” basically lifts a whole host of Lizzy trademarks in its intro, that the resultant rifferama powers off in another direction entirely, just about avoids any suggestion of plagiarism. In truth it’s a great song on an album thoroughly packed with them, “Destroyer” building a frantic shuffle as it strides with purpose and poise; and a chorus you’ll be singing for days on end. The band’s simple knack of nodding strongly to outfits of old (Sabbath again on this occasion) while adding different elements along the way, giving Never Say Die exciting energy that doesn’t quickly wear off.

Closing the album out comes the six minutes plus of “Lake Of Fire” a moody slow build of a song bursting into a ferocious grab for the throat that leaves you all a-fluster. But before we get to that mighty adieu, “Raise Your Hands” powers into your mind; add in the memorable rumble of “Dirty Water” and grinding “Rust Ruin” and there’s pretty much everything here that a modern retro rocker could hope for - “The River Song” even adding a Southern flavour or two.

To be fair there’s no getting away from the fact that choosing to borrow a Sabbath album title and then sticking Wiffen front and centre on the cover in a black shirt with white sleeve tassles, will cause some to dismiss Dead City Ruins out of hand as mere Black Sabbath clones. However, I can’t stress enough that, while you will find a lot of Ozzy and Iommi worship going on, this outfit bring a different slant to that thunderous attack. A catchier edge and less doomier fixation allowing for a brighter and much more upbeat offering than you might expect. Never Say Die does take a little time to settle in, but the more I hear it, the more I can’t quite shake off the notion that this might just be the best album I’ve heard in 2018 so far.

Track Listing
1. Devil Man
2. Bones

3. Dirty Water

4. Rust And Ruin

5. The River Song

6. We Are One

7. Destroyer

8. Raise Your Hands

9. Lake Of Fire
10. Devil Man (Live) 

11. We Are One (Live)

12. Bones (Live)

Added: May 3rd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Never Say Die at AFM Records
Hits: 781
Language: english

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