Only need to look at the cover of Back In Line to get an idea how seriously Burton-On-Trent three-piece THEIA take themselves, and could be forgiven for assuming from it that this album would be something akin to AIRBOURNE: old-school bluesy heavy rock that is first and foremost about rocking out and having fun for both the band and the listeners, which is sadly often missing in the modern heavy rock world dominated by bands like ALTER BRIDGE and HALESTORM and their weighty ballads about individuality, inner turmoil and toxic relationships.
And whilst THEIA certainly deliver the fun side of rock and roll, they undoubtedly have a foot in the serious camp as well, and the deceptively silly cover not only causes the listener to be caught off guard by their deeper and darker material, but belies just how seriously talented this group is, and how colossal they sound.
After the intro track Keezheekoni, a cool, western-style instrumental that sounds like the music from the game Borderlands, there is the sound of shotgun cocking and the band blasts into My Poison, a dose of straightforward, enjoyable rock and roll full of swerving, bending notes, rapid fire riffs and a nice mix of hedonistic innuendo in the catchy lyrics and musical proficiency, winning the listener over enough to make them want to join in the incredibly inviting na-na-na singalong that opens Whisky Business before some fantastic, stomping riffs take over. Kyle Lamley’s soaring, bluesy vocals are strong and engaging, as they are throughout the entire album, and the whole song puts a big smile on your face before finishing with a fun galloping riff. There is no doubt this song will be monstrous live.
Moving onto the title track, the band suddenly and effectively changes gear and moves into darker territory. Lamely’s previously fun guitar is now downtuned, fuzzy and sounds absolutely ferocious, and Paul Edwards and Jake Dalton’s muscular rhythm section adds a lot to the atmosphere. The band are very good at balancing heavy themes with rocking catchiness, as is demonstrated on Just Go, a dark, angry tale about rape and the importance of consent that comes as a bit of a shock given the first two songs. Lamely’s distorted guitar radiates with fury. This guy can’t just play the guitar; he can make it sing all by itself.
Signed Sealed Cemented gently brings the tone back up slightly before Paper The House, the obligatory celebration of live rock and roll, blasts off at full momentum with simple, effective and bouncy riffs. Then, out of nowhere, the band switches to acoustics for the reflective and introspective Sparkplug. Sombre yet still defiant, the simple mix of acoustic guitar and Lamely’s voice sounds great, but the band brilliantly builds up the sound throughout the song with a cello, drums and finally a slow-building electric guitar that finally breaks through and carries the rest of song wonderfully in a triumphant denounment. The band slows down even more for romantic ballad Home. The mix of acoustic and electric guitar still sounds great and the resonant knocking on wood and distant, soft booms do wonders for strengthening the songs emotional impact.
Finally the album concludes on Afterglow, an atmospheric, climactic mixture of all the styles they have displayed throughout: enrapturing Western elements, thumping drums, simmering, fuzz, catchy heavy rock, Lamely’s fantastic vocals and guitar solos and Edwards’ great bass work and BAD RELIGION-style backing vocals are all on display here, making for an engaging satisfying conclusion to great album.
While enough cannot be said about the band’s talent and diversity of sound, the production on this album deserves a special mention for making them sound so earth-shatteringly huge. It is hard to believe this gigantic sound came from just three guys. THEIA have more then delivered on their sophomore effort, crafting a massive-sounding dose of captivating and ridiculously enjoyable heavy rock whilst exploring darker and softer elements of their sound without losing any momentum. Lamely described it as “tearing its way out of the speakers, grabbing you by the ears and demanding that you rock from the first moment to the last!” He really wasn’t exaggerating…
Back In Line is out now via WDFD Records.
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