Burn It to the Ground – Roughneck Riot
It’s been kind of quiet on the album front from UK-based Roughneck Riot. Burn it to the Ground is their first album since 2014’s Out of Anger. The band plays a mix of punk rock and folk, featuring banjo and mandolin heavily in their sound.
The new album opens in an instrumental fashion. A bass-line and guitar opens the track, and then the banjo and mandolin is being layered on top. After a minute or so things kick of more heavily, and fans will recognize the sound straight away. I can’t really say that I’ve been that much into this band before, and for someone who haven’t heard them I think of Hot Water Music combined with The Tossers when I hear them. Some songs also sound a bit like Rise Against, if they would have had a banjo/mandolin player, for example the track We’ve Already Lost.
The folk-sound is there from the start and forward, mostly in form of the strings that is often the melodic focus in the tracks. And these guys know how to write a catchy string melody, which is showcased in the second track, Stay Awake, which is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The music rests on a heavy rock-ground a lot of the time, but the more folky strings are layered on top, reminding us that this is a band grounded in the folk-rock genre. There’s some well needed mix in tempo between the songs, mixing it up with some more mid-tempo tracks in between the more heavy and energetic songs, mostly in the later half.
Lyrically it’s socially conscious and well written throughout the record, and all of the songs feels relevant in that aspect. One thing I noticed listening through headphones, where details become more apparent sometimes, is frontman Matty’s inhales between lines. They tend to be quite growly and come through quite clearly in the mix. This almost becomes a distraction, and is more apparent on some tracks than it is on others. Minor thing, but one of those that if you start noticing it you’re having a hard time to stop thinking about it.
Overall, there’s a good sense of melodies and arrangements on this record. It’s a sound that I like and enjoy and it’s a pretty good record. There are some songs that doesn’t really stick with me, and some that tend to be a little bit too long. But it’s an enjoyable listen taken as a whole. The standout tracks for me are the ones where the folk-melodies get a place to shine, as for example in Stay Awake.