So, how many of you out there reading this remember ‘hard rock’ in the nineteen eighties? Some of you? Maybe half? Or are you all so young that this fantastical era in ‘metal’ history has passed you by completely? Well, I’m going to put this out there, and either it will strike a chord, or it won’t…
Back in the nineteen eighties in the ‘heavy metal’ music scene, (I know, it’s a term that seems to be disappearing more and more), there were two major scenes happening. If you want to generalise, then you will know it as ‘thrash’ metal and ‘glam’ metal, or as it’s known now, ‘hair’ metal. You were either one or the other, there was no in between and was a big divide. At the time you were either team Metallica, Slayer, or Megadeth, or you were into Poison, Mötley Crüe, or Bon Jovi. The look was as different as the music, and this didn’t leave much room for anything else. If you had back combed hair you were into ‘glam’, and if you dressed like a ‘punk rock’ star, you were ‘thrash’.
Well, during that time, there was also another big scene, that most people choose to ignore, and that was the ‘hard rock’ scene. This was largely formed of bands being pigeonholed as ‘glam’, or ‘hair’, metal, mostly just because they had big hair. In this scene, there were a lot of musicians that didn’t really fit either genre, or deserve to be classified as such. One of those artists, and if you’re up on your heavy music history, then you will know already its Lita Ford.
If you don’t know her, but appreciate killer guitars, heavy hooks, and insanely dynamic female vocals, then Lita is the benchmark of everything that was epic about female driven hard rock in the eighties, and well in to the nineties. Without a doubt Lita Ford is iconic, she is truly a pioneer, hell, she gives pretty much ninety percent of male guitarists a run for their money, and surpasses them with ease. Lita was one fifth of The Runaways, she went solo, and went on to become the leading light in female rock.
Well, right now you may be wondering what this little history lesson has to do with reviewing the brand spanking new debut album by Sweden’s Electric Hydra, and that’s where I can step in to fill some gaps.
Electric Hydra is to hard rock in twenty twenty what Lita Ford was in the nineteen eighties. At times, the parallels are scary, the guitar work, the vocal, and the overall feeling on this album is so undeniably what Lita Ford has been producing for decades, that if you closed your eyes, and knew no better, you would struggle to draw the line of where Lita stops and Electric Hydra begin.
Now, some of you may be thinking to yourselves ‘but why would I want to listen to something that sounds like old music?’ Well this is where you need to jump on board, and embrace Electric Hydra with open arms. They’re truly a testament to an era that’s somewhat been lost through the passage of time, but is so wonderful seeing it making a return, and it’s in the best way possible.
It’s fresh, and new, but with a timeless swagger…
It’s been a long dark winter for ‘hard rock’, it fell out of favour in the nineties, was eclipsed by ‘grunge’ and then ‘nu metal’, and has been quietly waiting, biding its time until it could reemerge to a completely new audience in this new technology driven age. Well, in Electric Hydra it’s had its rebirth, and then some. Its alive and kicking, as much as it ever was. This album isn’t just heavy, it’s overwhelming in a richness that hasn’t been seen in so long. It’s fresh, and new, but with a timeless swagger that only a band like Electric Hydra would be able to capture so magnificently.
Outstanding tracks for me are It Comes Alive, Won’t Go To War (With Myself), and Iron Lung, which fully embrace that rich, hard rock, sound. They’re all very bass heavy, with added chugging guitars, and pounding drums, it’s literally everything that comes with that overblown American rock sound we all know and love so much.
At times, for me personally, Electric Hydra also draw comparison with the now sadly defunct Black Moth, as it’s got that stoner tinge, and the sultry vocal really sets off the hard rocking and bass heavy richness of the backline, in the same way Yorkshire’s finest did.
One thing that can be said with joyous tones, from start to finish there’s no letup in pace. There’s no overblown ballady slow songs, no breakneck passages to offset the rock goodness, and it feels like something we’ve needed for so long, and now it’s here, it’s time to bring it home, and show it some love. And for a debut, it’s so well produced, it’s hard to believe it’s even a debut, and if it is, then god only knows where the band are going from here, but it’s a ride I am more than happy to jump on for all its worth.
Obviously, as Electric Hydra are Swedish, and have toured with the likes of Lucifer and Monolord, it would be easy to group them right in to the same category, but deserve so much more. Yeah, sure, there are similarities, but they’re also up there in the hard rock stakes that although admired, was also unfairly overlooked back in the day.
If you’re under thirty, then perhaps a lot of this has completely passed you by, maybe this is why we oldies know it as the whole ‘retro sound’, but even as an older fan of the genre, I still implore you to put your hand in your pocket, and part with some finances, buy it, try it, and see what you think. There’s a reason why this underplayed style is making a comeback, and it’s for you to grab, embrace, and enjoy.
Right now there are so many bands making new from old; Blues Pills, Vintage Caravan, and Greta Van Fleet spring straight to mind, but it’s how they add their own flair to the rock blueprint, to a point its hard not to love them, and I think Electric Hydra are going to be the next name added to an already impressive list.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish