Label: Self Released
Release date: 2011
When Australian-based October Rage sent its self-released 2011 CD Outrage to U.S. press, I had my reservations about what to expect. The band name, like so many these days seemed to be two meaningless words pulled from a hat or stabbed on a dart board; cool yet random. Another run-of-the-mill hard rock band in the offing. I put the disc in and felt immediately disappointed that again like so many of today’s young acts, October Rage kick-started the record with a pointless instrumental intro, “Lords of Wyrd” which was neither instrumental nor essential to the album. Then everything changed…
From the opening riffs of “Set You Free” the mood altered immediately. This is a great rock song, the kind too few bands know how to write these days. Vocalist and guitarist Nick Roberts channels his energy and swagger through his voice, and he has a gift for using it to his advantage. While the song rocks hard with thick riffs and a rumbling bottom end, it is still ripe with muscular melody, in large part due to Nick’s vocal enunciation and inflections. He recalls in some measure the uniqueness of James Hetfield, yet more powerful and controlled. If there is any flaw to be found here it is arguably the uninspired solo offered by lead guitarist Tim Ciantar. The framework was there for something grand, but perhaps I seek too much. Sometimes less is more. Then again perhaps there’s a reason Ciantar has since been replaced by Josh Gilbert. Let the speculation begin.
The band’s sonic signature feels more akin to a southern hard rock band, and it is something of a surprise they hail from down under. October Rage offer up a sound that recalls a heavier Shinedown, as well as Hinder and Black Stone Cherry, with hints of Godsmack, Alter Bridge and Metallica. The latter in part to the aforementioned vocals nuances of Nick Roberts.
One song does not however make an album. Fortunately October Rage has 10 incredibly strong tracks to offer here: Impressive enough to forgive the needless intro. Songs like “Eastern Road”, “Wayside”, and the ballsy “Two-Sided Blade” simply crush, and especially on the latter, the rhythm section of bassist Will Roberts (Nick’s brother) and drummer Rory Bratby, truly shine as it does on “Reign of Fire”. The latter being perhaps the weightiest track on the album with its southern comfort groove and Lynyrd Skynyrd style jam.
“Rain” hints at a more modern influence, while “Home” is as addictive a song as one could hope to find.
“Silver Line” recalls something of a Hinder vibe as does “Supernova”, and the album’s closing ballad, “Under the Wind” is a definite keeper with its rich orchestral movements, courtesy of Adrian Hannan who produced and engineered the record.
“Into the Night” could easily be on any Shinedown album. One of the album’s strongest melodies.
In all, Outrage is a very distinguished and smart debut album that clearly sets the tone for October Rage, while offering an inspired promise for the future. There is an abundance of potential here, beyond what the quartet already tapped into on this stellar offering. Had we gotten our ears on this last year it would have been among the top ten of the year’s best hard rock releases.
Note: “Lords of Wyrd” is growing on me. Still not essential, but a decent tone setter…