British blues/hard rock singer-songwriter Jack J Hutchinson has been on the scene for a few years now, plugging away and growing more and more. It seems to be paying off as he is suddenly everywhere. On festivals, radio stations, and across the country on his headline arena tour (which you can check out here). Everyone seems to be waiting for his new album with baited breath… and we got to check it out early! How is it? Read on to find out!
‘Straight to Hell’ opens the album as it means to go on, with a heavy, awesome riff that draws heavily from Jack’s 70s metal influences. It’s not long before Jack’s unmistakable, higher vocals come in over the top, following the awesome melody of the guitar. It then drops into a lower, ‘slower’ chorus. It’s an interesting choice, to drop down for the chorus instead of build up, but it works fantastically well here. It’s catchy and NWOBHM as fuck.
We get an utterly ridiculous guitar solo after the second chorus, the technicality and speed off the charts. It’s damn impressive, having inspiration from everyone from Tony Iommi to Slash to EVH, from what I could hear. It drops down to a solo guitar afterwards, playing some great chords. It builds up more and more with Jack’s vocals and drums, giving off surprisingly massive Soundgarden vibes. Then, a final chorus takes us home. This is how you open an album! Awesome and easily playlisted!
The album’s title track is another that opens right into a fantastic wall of sound. The riff is infectiously good, even having some early Maiden in there. There are less dynamics to this song, the verse and chorus both being at the same sort of level. It’s a straight up rock track filled to the brim with huge riff after huge riff. The Maiden-style continues with the bridge heading into the guitar solo, but the solo is just straight up Kirk Hammett with all that wah. We then get another chorus again to finish off. This felt like more of an instrumental showcase song, and for that purpose I loved it! Great stuff from Hutchinson and co!
The lead single of the album, ‘Down by the River’, is a slightly steadier tempo. The riff is huge and epic but steady, and the verse drops down even more. Simple guitar, bass and drum playing gives the vocals more time to breath. It’s the opposite of the opening track too, building into a huge, catchy chorus over the top of the opening riff. The Black Sabbath AF riff that comes in after the second chorus is awesome, as is the bridge with the distorted vocals that leads to the final riff and chorus. The riffs have really been a highlight so far, a real old school feel to them. Three for three on good songs so far!
‘Angel of Death’ is sadly not a Slayer cover. It is, however, still a kickass song. Opening as more of a ballad with a clean guitar chord progression, it stays soft rock as Hutchinson delivers more great vocals for the verse. The whole track has a suitably epic aura around it, as all good ballads should, and it’s all really catchy. The lyrics stood out a lot this time too, filled with emotion and truth. The solo was slower too, giving the notes more room to breath. It was a fantastic change of pace after three balls-to-the-wall tracks, and another awesome one that makes the playlist!
‘Halo’ gets back to normal, hitting us with a huge, sludgy riff right out of the gate. The duelling vocals were a nice touch during the verses, with the ‘please’ being catchy and something that will be easy to get into live. Speaking of catchy, the chorus here is the catchiest on the whole album, not an easy feat considering it’s only three words. Another decent solo rounds out simple yet catchy track.
Lead single of the album, ‘Call of the Wild’ and ‘Gunslinger’ both feel pretty similar to a few of the other tracks on the album, from a review standpoint. Both are great, with the former having a catchy chorus and all of the vocals on the latter being catchy in one way or another, but outside of that I can’t think of much to single out.
The low, almost throat-sung vocals in ‘The Ravens Crow’ and the generally lower, sludgier nature of the track lends itself more to a Black Label Society kind of style. It’s biker metal, almost, and it’s definitely awesome. Not a lot to say about this track too but damn, it was great and makes the playlist!
Unfortunately ‘What Doesn’t Kill You…’ feels a bit of a dud compared to the quality of the rest of the album. I see what Jack was doing with it and it felt pretty reminiscent of the likes of Deep Purple etc, but it stood out among the rest of a heavy album, and not in a good way. Thankfully the closing track, ‘World on Fire’, more than makes up for it. It’s one hell of a closing track, filled with heaviness and catchiness and swagger while also dropping down for an awesome little Maiden-like portion in the middle. A fantastic end to a fantastic album!
Overall: I know I may be bias towards the more heavy side of rock music but I do believe this may be the best album Jack Hutchinson has done. From a song-writing standpoint it is off the charts good, with some catchy vocals and some of the best riffs I have heard in ages. We have the privilege of seeing Jack a couple of times in the next year, and I cannot wait to hear how these songs come across live. A star in the making!
The Score: 8.5/10