Named after the Nazareth album of the same name (intentional?), Hair Of The Dog are a Scottish trio from Edinburgh consisting of brothers Jonathan (Drums) and Adam Holt (Guitar/Vocals) as well as lifelong friend Iain Thomson (Bass). It’s Just A Ride is the band’s fourth album and the group are yet another addition to the excellent Kozmik Artifactz label, who have featured the likes of Mondo Drag, Devil Electric and Church Of The Cosmic Skull.
The cover, art in comparison the band’s earlier albums, is simplistic, no sexy sirens or grim reapers here, just the band sat on a wall, not really a lot more that you can add about it. The album title is derived from the infamous Bill Hicks routine of the same name and opens the first track on the record Just A Ride. On first listen, you may briefly get the impression this is a post-metal track, but soon changes with a pretty awesome 70s hard rock riff that resembles Mountain. We soon get to hear our first taste of Adam Holt’s vocals that come off a little like Robert Plant and Chris Cornell. The track has a progressive vibe to it as well, elements of King Crimson thrown in at the odd moments adding to the unpredictability of the music. Pretty blinding opener.
Run And Hide has a Zeppelin vibe to it (though thankfully not in the Greta Van Fleet sense), this is the shortest track on the record. The latter part of the song sounds a little like Kashmir in places to my ears. She Was starts quietly with a Hammond organ for about a minute, before a thunderous riff that resembles the Death In Vegas/Iggy Pop collaboration Aisha. I don’t how these guys come up with these riffs but I’m lovin’ it all the same! This is heavy ass blues rock that makes you think of bands like Witchcraft and Graveyard, if they were more technical and progressive.
[We The Cancer] changes pace at quite a dizzying speed, one minute you are headbanging along, the next you’re mellowing out to the accompanying violin and blissful guitar solo…
We The Cancer is next, and this is by far the most progressive track on the record, it’s also the longest as well. There is a slight Steve Winwood, Traffic era feel about the vocals, while the riffing sounds at times positively thrashy in places. The track changes pace at quite a dizzying speed, one minute you’re headbanging along, the next you are mellowing out to the accompanying violin and blissful guitar solo. This is a remarkable number which makes you want to replay it so you can pick up on anything you may have missed out on first time round.
Will They Forgive Us reminds me of my boys Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy with its twin guitar attack feel. Finally, we get to The Writing On The Wall, curiously sounding like a bluesy Rage Against the Machine, a band I’ve not listened to since my teens (just don’t get me started on the politics), the vocals coming off a bit like a young Mike Patton during his early days in Faith No More, The Real Thing era.
I really enjoyed this record, there were a lot of nods to early 70s rock and prog but given a fresh contemporary twist. The vocals may be a sticking point for some, they are quite high pitched and hence may be an acquired taste, but personally I feel they complemented the music rather than detract from it. This is a pretty solid effort and it’s the kind of album I could easily see myself going back to for repeated listens.
Scribed by: Reza Mills