Finnish singer/songwriter Ron D. Rock spent the first decade of the century touring around his homeland with a selection of metal ensembles, as well as venturing across the Atlantic to New York and Boston. Landing on Irish shores in 2013, he’s been busy making a name for himself on the south-west’s live scene ever since.
The Kouvola native’s debut solo endeavour – which he wrote, performed and produced all by himself – dropped at the start of July after two years of meticulous work. Christened The Long Road Home, it takes off as its title track runs into an absorbing mixture of rocking riffs and country/trad motifs. Racing furiously forward, it oozes energy and enthusiasm by the bucket load. Its passion and ferocity are mesmerising, getting the record off to an ecstatic start.
“Better Days” skips in upon an amiable beat ahead of a vivacious verse. Its catchy chorus is loaded with spirit and feeling, keeping things compelling on the way to yet more infectious instrumentation and melodies. It’s a wonderfully warm and sunny pop/rock anthem. “Crossroads” features a mellow and moving introduction next, once again fusing elements of trad and rock to create a strikingly stirring sound. The outcome is a gentle but bustling ballad, whose uplifting instrumental execution is enthralling.
“Against the Grain” is another happy and heartfelt undertaking that immediately adopts an optimistic attitude. The vibrant vocals and rousing riffs ensure an amazingly arresting experience from opening to close. “Our Darkest Days” dives into dire guitars and percussion afterwards, which cut deep and excite as they charge towards a foreboding melody. It’s a much darker but no less fervent effort, whose heavy edge is extremely invigorating.
“Drift Away” has a bright and buoyant beginning, during which the Irish influence can be felt in the best way. It takes traditional techniques and throws them together with contemporary rock traits to give rise to something singular and stimulating. “The War Is Not My Voice” develops at a slightly slower but delightfully determined speed. Leading to a choir-like chorus that echoes intensely across the air, it draws you in and keeps you captivated.
“Damn My Luck” is a touching tune, arriving by way of a reassuring riff and vivid vocals. Pacing along purposefully, it maintains an encouraging atmosphere that’s very heartening. The pressing percussion of “Dixieland Delight” stomps into roots-like fiddle work in its wake, made all the more exhilarating through the addition of impactful guitars. The ultimate outcome is a gripping combination of country and hard rock that’s a lot of fun.
“This Lonesome Road” comes as a light and lazy number, with which it’s easy to sit back and unwind. “Hey Mamacita!” goes back in a more boisterous direction when it’s done, steadily gaining momentum to establish a riveting rhythm. This is before “Never Say Die” grows gradually through serene instrumentation and a hushed harmony to serve as a forceful finale.
Ron D. Rock’s work here is truly engrossing. It takes classic rock attributes and merges them with folk and ethnic idiosyncrasies to forge something fresh and thrilling, yet familiar and friendly. The resultant sound pays loving homage to traditional Irish music while essentially reinventing the genre for a new era. The Long Road Home is an astonishing album that’s guaranteed to find favour with listeners of all ages. Check it out now on Bandcamp.
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