In this day and age, it seems that society is too hung up on labels and this is certainly true in the music world. The need to look a certain way or conform to a certain sound that can become quite tiresome after a mezze of similarly sounding musicians in the world. But every so often, a band comes along and says ‘we don’t want to be pigeon-holed as just another rock band, that’s not who we are and that’s okay’. This someone is the genre defying quartet A Joker’s Rage from York. Darting from pop rock, to delicate ballad, to head banging, foot stomping metal within their debut album ‘The Rain Dance’, clearly the years of experience have fed into creating this masterpiece and certainly one to be proud of.
There is much to be loved about opening track ‘Temptress’, the sassy riffs, an absolutely killer chorus guaranteed to get you singing from the rooftops and vocals to die for from Zakky Boy Taylor. As album openers go, it’s pretty darn strong, sensationally upbeat and you simply cannot wait for what is to come next.
Delicate piano gives way to some beasty riffs in ‘Shylock’, before diving into the album’s first single ‘My Heroes’. Another track with delicate beginnings set beautifully against Taylor’s vocals, A Joker’s Rage shine with this exceptionally polished piece. Everything from the intricate riffs to the intensifying percussion to the wonderfully thought-provoking lyrics is stunning.
Fans will certainly be pleased to hear veteran track ‘Bounce’ included in all its glory within ‘The Rain Dance’. With its insanely addictive, head-bopping chorus, it’d simply be rude not to. Their charm lies within their eclecticism, for ‘The One’ has roots deep seeded in deliciously metallic riffs and frenzied drums, yet right around the corner lies the truly understated ‘Secrets’. Taylor radiates a quiet confidence against the gentle piano, and when it bursts forth at the chorus, the pure emotion in his voice is undeniable.
‘Screaming with the Lights Out’ offers some fabulous harmonies and a quirky delivery in its vocals, you can almost see the charisma Taylor would exude with this track onstage. Bringing us back into reality with an eerie introduction is ‘Hideaway’, with haunting lyrics to match. The passion in Taylor’s voice when he cries: ‘Where did you go?’ is almost too much to bear but you can’t help but fall under its spell.
This labour of love truly culminates in penultimate track ‘Ballet to the Masses’, a quirky rock anthem written in tribute to one of the greatest musical heroes: Freddie Mercury. It encapsulates both Mercury’s personality and the Queen spirit perfectly, with zany riffs and a catchy chorus to boot. Listen closely to the lyrics, for the many nods to Queen’s extensive back catalogue are embedded seamlessly into this track and are bound to make you smile. This simply is the most flawless, fitting tribute to a true legend.
Bringing the album to a close is the powerful ‘Stars Align’, with rousing guitar from the off-set, taking a back step for a moment one last time to let Taylor shine with passionate and endlessly soaring vocals. It’s the sort of song that would see phone lights in the air and fans belting out ‘woah oh’s’ with absolute gusto as they set draws to a close. The most perfect way to end an album that took years in the making. But it doesn’t matter how long it takes to create a piece of art, what matters is that how truly breath-taking it is when you finally unveil it onto the world. And for A Joker’s Rage, ‘The Rain Dance’ is astonishing, no doubt about it.