This is NWOCR: a showcase of the best British new wave of classic rock scene

A term coined back in 2017 for the resurgence of a classic sound brought about by the likes of Inglorious and The Dead Daisies, the New Wave of Classic Rock has gone from strength to strength since and has found itself at the forefront of the underground scene over the past couple of years. That has in large part been down to the fantastic efforts of a lot of people behind the scenes, helping promote the bands and form a real community around the sub-genre. It has led to this, a 42-track collection of some of the best the genre has to offer. I for one am familiar with a good few of the bands contained on it and I’m a big fan so I’m excited to get the chance to review them. 

To put it simply, it’s 42 smaller bands getting some much-needed exposure, and I could not be happier to listen to it and help by both buying and reviewing it. This may be a long one – who’s ready?

Massive Wagons start us off with their 2015 hit, ‘Tokyo’. It’s a fantastic track that perfectly encapsulates the genre. It’s a middle-paced stomper full of 70’s inspired riffs, soaring, powerful vocals, and a massive (pun intended), catchy chorus. It wouldn’t feel out of place on a Rainbow or even AC/DC chorus with that sort of vibe – a real stadium-filler of a song and a big reason as to why the band is one of the biggest up-and-coming British artists around.

Next up is Mason Hill. I’ve listened to their debut album before and I have to admit that while I didn’t enjoy every single song, ‘DNA’ was one of the standout tracks on it. The main riff alone is a massive positive, quick, driving, heavy guitar pairing fantastically with the slower drums. The backing vocals and harmonies are also on point throughout, be it in the pre-chorus or chorus which both feature different layers and styles in each part. Another great track from such a young band.

Hollowstar‘s biggest track ‘All I Gotta Say’ starts off slower than the other two, having a beautiful clean chord progression for the first verse before another amazing, heavy guitar riff cuts through it and launches the song into a faster pace. The verses stay slower but the real highlight is the heavier choruses, blasting out with huge power chords and catchy vocals from Joe Bonson. Three for three with amazing tracks so far.

These Wicked Rivers give us a bit more of a scrappier track more reminiscent of Rival Sons and older bands like Rolling Stones than the more polished and produced tracks we’ve had so far. That doesn’t take away from the quality at all though. The riff is again awesome; it is lighter and higher than the others and the chorus is maybe one of the catchiest of the album.

We finally reach a band I haven’t heard of – Anchor Lane with their track ‘Fame Shame’. The band definitely fits into the NWOCR sub-genre but I hear just a little Soundgarden in here too – there’s some of that faster, heavy grunge vibe to it. I have to admit, I’m a fan. The breakdown was pretty great too and the chorus was just as catchy as some of the others on the album. The band has found a new fan in me!

Empyre gives us another middle-paced track, filled with palm-muted guitars and low drums that contrast nicely with the powerful, awesome vocals. The chorus is a great riff but, outside of that, it doesn’t take off any, staying at the steady, low pace. The guitar solo in the middle is fantastic though and the vocals almost remind me of Peter Steele’s at times. A good track and the slowest so far.

Daxx And Roxane are a band I have been recommended a couple of times before but just haven’t had the chance to check out. I’m so glad that this changed today as ‘Without You’ is an awesome track. Channelling some real Poison vibes with this track but modernising it for the current scene is awesome. The riff is infectious, making me bob my head throughout, and the vocals are powerful: soaring and catchy. They have a new fan in me and I can’t wait to hopefully catch them on the festival circuit next year!

Sons of Liberty are one of the surprising number of bands on this album that I first heard at HRH a couple of years ago and have been a fan of them ever since. ‘Fire and Gasoline’ is a great AC/DC style chugging rock song, incorporating both the catchy soaring vocals and the lower, almost power-metal-esque style through the verses. Its catchy, infectious chorus hook is enough to push it into our playlist alone but the rest of the song is awesome too.

Tequila Mockingbyrd and Cult Classics alumni united to form The Hot Damn! at the back end of last year and launched their debut single at the start of the month ready for this release. I was a big fan of the two separate bands that the frontwomen were part of and I have purposely been holding out on listening to the track so that I could review it properly with this album. ‘Dance Around’ is a great track that feels punkier than the rest of the songs so far. It feels like it was inspired by early Wildhearts in the best way – catchy, light and bouncy throughout. Gill Montgomery’s vocals fit perfectly over the instrumentation and the harmonies throughout the chorus work so well. Another fantastic new band!

Everyday Heroes give us another bluesy stomper of a track. It’s mid-paced and good but I’m sad to say it fades into the background a tad after so many phenomenal tracks before it. The harmonies were nice though, as was the solo. I kind of felt the same about the next track, Elles Bailey‘s ‘Woman Like Me’. It was definitely different from the previous tracks on the album but it didn’t fit as much into the sub-genre as the others. It felt closest to The Doors to me, a band that I wouldn’t necessarily class as classic rock. It was a good song and a well-needed change of pace in a solely hard rock album, but there wasn’t too much to it. It was a nice chilled-out song though and the solo in the middle was great!

Scarlet Rebels pick the pace back up with a great riff and some awesome pinch harmonics to open ‘No One Else to Blame’. I actually can’t get enough of the riff; it is the highlight of the song for me, though the chorus is pretty decent too! Meanwhile, Wolf Jaw offer up their own brand of slower blues-rock to the mix. Lead by the funky bassline and simple drumbeat, Tom Leighton’s vocals fitting perfectly over the top of them. It picks up perfectly into the chorus too, the guitars adding some great layers into it and pushing the vocals up higher. Another fantastic track!

Tomorrow Is Lost’s production is second to none on this album; the quality when the instruments explode over the top of the bassline sounds MASSIVE. It only adds to the epicness of the track as it builds perfectly from the verse through to the amazing chorus. I haven’t heard the song before as I hadn’t even heard of the band but damn, it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album. Even the awesome distorted vocals that kind of acted like the solo was awesome and such a unique take on the conventional rock style that I couldn’t not love it. An awesome track and I shall definitely be listening to more from the band!

Riff machines Dead Man’s Whiskey bring the power and attitude with ‘War Machine’. The vocals are good but the instrumentation for me is the real highlight of the track. The riff is just so infectious that even the awesome call and response backing vocals through the chorus could beat it. Meanwhile, Dig Lazarus channels similar vibes to The Hot Damn! with a great punk rock track. It’s driving from start to finish and simple yet pretty effective. However, I do feel like it would get a tad lost in the shuffle among the other incredible tracks on the collection.

Next is a band that I need no introduction to as they have been one of my favourite bands of the last few years, The New Roses. Because of this, I shall spare my relentless gushing over the band that I have done to my friends and over social media and instead I urge everyone reading this to CHECK THEM OUT. The track on this album, ‘Whiskey Nightmare’, is a great starting point. So, what are you waiting for? Go check out your new favourite band already!

Shape of Water (not the fish porn movie) is another song that feels like it revolves around an awesome riff. The vocals work well over the top, giving off a massive sludgy/bluesy vibe to the whole thing – almost like a stoner rock song like Kyuss or Masters of Reality. It was another welcome change of pace on an album that has a lot of similar music, making me like this song a lot as a result!

Häxan sounds good but their track feels as much lost in the shuffle as a couple of the others, there isn’t much special about it that hasn’t already been done. The same can be said about the final two tracks of the first disc from Rival Black and Gin Annie. Both are good songs in their own right but offer little in the way of variety.

It isn’t until disc two begins with the always fantastic Phil Cambell and the Bastard Sons that the album truly gets back to form. The man from Motorhead has been firing on all cylinders during his current solo project and releasing arguably some of the best music of his career, and ‘Son of a Gun’ is no exception. A great hard rock song and another highlight of the collection.

The Dust Coda’s ‘When The Tide Comes in’ has a catchy as anything opening vocal hook, especially when the rest of the band come im. It’s the highlight of the song, the rest not quite as fun. Unfortunately Skam, another band I am usually a fan of, fade a little into the background with the sheer quality on display throughout these two discs.

Collateral offers a fresh change of pace, this time going for a Bon Jovi ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ style with ‘Merry Go Round’. It’s an enjoyable, acoustic lead song, filled with catchy vocal hooks, huge choruses and awesome backing vocals. It’s the ballad this album needed and is definitely a good one. Another band I haven’t heard enough of!

Bad Touch provides the most controversial track on the album for me. I used to gig with them a lot back in the day and, as good as this song is, I have to admit I prefer their older stuff. I don’t know what the difference between ‘I Get High’ and something like ‘Wise Water’ is and maybe it’s simply nostalgia. 

Massive was one of the few to record a new song ready for this release. We covered their latest single ‘Rise’ when it first came out so check that out! 

The next few tracks from bands like Gorilla Riot and Thundermother all felt a little samey at this point, something that is unfortunately going to happen with so many songs from the same sub-genre. The next one that kind of caught my ear was Rews with ‘Today We’re Warriors’, and that’s mainly because it sounds pretty similar to something Dorothy would release. It’s more pop-rock leaning and another nice and appreciated change of pace on this LONG album.

Twister gives us a good track that somehow blends glam and punk seamlessly, and Bootyard Bandits bring their own fantastic brand of comedy and country-rock to the proceedings. Doomsday Outlaw gives off some great country/blues vibes too and Ashen Reach shows off their impressive AOR sound and style, almost metal in its execution.

Ryders Creed got me excited for a second as their guitar tone was pretty reminiscent of early Nickelback (to a point where the riff seems almost a straight rip of ‘Hangnail’) but when the vocals kicked in it became a lot lighter and radio-bait-y. It’s not bad but I had never really understood the hype around this band to begin with, so it would have taken a lot to convince me.

The final track saved the same-ness of the second disk for me with Blackwater Conspiracy’s ‘Soul Revolutionaries’. It gave off almost Rod Stewart vibes at times, being a lighter, poppier rock song but it was done so well and enjoyably that it became one of my favourite tracks of the album. The driving guitars, subtle piano, and soaring vocals were all massive highlights and drew me back to a band I haven’t listened to enough of recently. An awesome way to close an album!

Overall: I have to admit right out of the gate that 42 tracks/bands took a lot to listen to in one session. However, the sheer ambition of this album has to be applauded and being able to showcase so many smaller, incredible bands on a release such as this is amazing. There were a lot of awesome tracks on the album from bands that deserve to be a lot bigger than they are and hopefully this will give them a platform to really launch off of!

Score: 8.5/10