If we had a lot to say about Webbs’ head-turning metal EP Disenchanted, back in August, there’s a version of Irving Berlin’s classic, White Christmas out tomorrow, Friday 3rd December, here. Yeah, it’s a sluggish haul building into Webb’s emblematic hard rock style, and the sonic fuzz-box crooning will shake the baubles off your tree!
As for what’s next, after two very successful gigs in Birmingham and Glastonbury in 2021, I’m told we can expect to hear more new music from WEBB shortly into the new year. Which we look forward to.
From Bing to Buble, and from Bob Marley to Meghan Trainor, it’s a popular but odd murmuring song to cover, I think, while Nat King Cole’s Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire hardly ever gets a remake, and I personally think it’s the best Christmas crooning song, like, ever, but let’s not get into an argument over such froths during the season of goodwill, you cheap lousy maggot! I know you favour Shakey’s, and that’s your prerogative!
Maybe the Darkness tried to bring heavy rock back into Christmas songs, but it was never the same since the glam days of Slade and Wizard, those are the ones which ring in my ears with memories as far back as I can reach, real toddler Christmas days of yore. White Christmas though, yeah, Webb makes a great, alternative job of it.
Swindon’s one-man red-hot chilli pepper, Webb is about to blow your mind, speakers and pants off with his new EP Disenchanted; I’ve heard it, and live to tell the tale….
First impressions last, and I’m having one of those mornings. Perpetual drizzle, darker mornings conspicuously drawing nearer, and other trivial irritations which I can’t quite put my finger on, are building to a generally low-spirited mood. Tedious has the eighties pop mix I’m listening to become, even nostalgia cannot help me. I stop for a break, knowing I’ve got Ryan Webb’s new EP Disenchanted to review, which promises to mark the emergence of WEBB’s new, heavier direction. This is displayed by the forename being dropped, saving as Webb.
I consider playing the Lost Trades, for their folky calmness will do wonders for my wellbeing, and I suspect Disenchanted might have the opposite effect. Though I acknowledge it will be of high quality, Ryan’s sound has always been substantial, heavy rock or metal isn’t my bag, and I’m usually highly critical of it. Don’t do it, I deliberate, last thing they need is for me to be set to whinge mode. But I did anyway, and given all algorithms, I worried this could head south rather quickly.
The five track EP includes the previously released track “DON’T!”, which we reviewed in May last year. I didn’t headcount the tracks but noted, after a while, I’d heard the one playing before; it’s gone around on repeat unnoticed, I’ve been sucked in, and it surpassed my preconceptions by a country mile. Ha, turns out it did suit the mood after all, in fact, it fitted all too well, and is, essentially a magnificent piece of music.
Now, given all I’ve said, about heavy rock not being my cup of tea, and this is something rather special even to me, if you are partial to the heavier weight of rock, it’s got your name all over it.
So, now I’ve awarded my mind the task of figuring out why it works so well. And to do this is to honestly unravel why I maintain qualms about metal. Don’t get me wrong, after the hip hop boom in the eighties became somewhat tiresome, like many I looked towards the soft metal genre for solace; I was shot in the heart too, just like Bon Jovi, longed for crazy, crazy nights, and if Heart sang how canI get you alone one more time when all they had to do was ask me, I’d be content. And as student years rolled in, I lost myself in the classics. Noting if it was compulsory for every soft metal band to sound like Jimmy Page, which while this is no bad thing, the vocal trend over time seemed to metamorphize into a hackneyed caricature of the voice of Satan. My qualm begins here, you don’t know if Satan actually sounds like that, all coarse and demonic, he could have a camp voice for all you know!
There it is, the negativity, the hellish themes of death and destruction, and the long hair; I don’t want to bring my, or anyone else’s daughter to the slaughter, if you don’t mind. Even if it’s tongue-in-cheek, times when I want to push the extensive fringes of metallers from their foreheads so they might see the beauty in life, the positives. Nu-metal, I say, feels like a long stretch to the elements I favour, the frenzied driving passion of Zeppelin, of The Ace of Spades, even Black Sabbath’s Paranoid I’ll give you.
And here’s where Disenchanted fits; contemporary with nods to the classics, the vocals more on Page than Beelzebub, and Webb can hold a note like a tenor, while sublime drums roll over it blissfully. This fits because it’s precisely the opposite of mindless headbanging for headbanging sake, it’s composed and constructed with clarity and a truckload of talent.
The reason the EP rolled on unnoticed is because it captures all that is positive, all the elements I appreciate of the genre. Webb says, “I’m really excited about Disenchanted. It’s an EP that I am really proud of, and I feel that now I have found the right direction for my music,” and proud he should be, for in technical jargon, Disenchanted can be summed as oomph; here,have a bit of that.
It amplifies a quote from my review of the single, “a one-man red-hot chilli pepper.” Ryan wrote, produced, sang, wailed his guitar, recorded and mixed this track in his studio. The only collaborators being Dave Collins on Don’t, the mastering engineer for Metallica’s last album, and Pete Maher who mastered the whole EP; he’s mastered the Rolling Stones and the Killers to name but a few.
Within seven seconds it pounds, the stunning lead single Concrete Beds; oh, those rolling drums, proficient howling guitars and Webb’s mighty soulful vocals; it rocks. Disenchanted demonstrates the multi-instrumental talent that makes him unique.
There’s acute narrative to boot, Concrete Beds aptly homelessness themed, I’m Standing Here erotically scorching, the third track though, Secrets is a haunting ambient caution to bottling up, and debatably the most poignant on the EP. When Darkness Falls lifts the tempo once more, and is heavy, but I’m still engrossed, then the finale, Don’t rips you a new arsehole, the riff beguiling, the considerable power and passion launched into this is exceptional.
The test of good “driving” rock is just that, your foot’s tension on the accelerator is judge and jury, and Disenchanted will have your pedal to the metal. It’s unleashed to the world next Saturday, the 14th August, and tickets are now available for the launch show at The Vic, Swindon.
Okay I confess, in my last article I did, didn’t I, state there was a trend of indie music taming to mass appeal? And yeah, I suggested this is no bad thing. There will, however be exceptions to the rule, and rock will, and should always retain its hard edge; we have room for all here. Swindon’s Ryan Webb, for instance, who’s just dropped a new single, “Don’t,” takes no prisoners.
This is militantly metal, with spikes. It rocks with edge, it doesn’t hang around with an ambient intro, stop for a melodic break, the bridge is reached in seconds, the rolling guitar riff perpetually quivering your bones. A one-man red-hot chilli pepper, Ryan wrote, produced, sang, wailed his guitar, recorded and mixed the track in his studio. The only collaborator being Dave Collins, the mastering engineer for Metallica’s last album, who mastered this too.
It must be said, this not the template of Ryan Webb, who quotes influences ranging from Pink Floyd, Joe Satriani, and Zeppellin, to Coldplay, Muse, and Kings of Leon. He has the range encompassing any rock avenue, and projects all with comfort and competence.
“Don’t” though, whoa there Ryan, I’m inclined to put my frayed denim jacket over my AC-DC t-shirt and head-bang my way to the highway from hell, and I’m not usually one for all that; haven’t even got an army surplus bag with badly grafted pictures of Eddie the Head and Megadeath logos!
So yeah, if I like it, you iron maidens will love it! What is more, the track is “a plea to anyone contemplating suicide to take a step back and see that they have a lot going on for them in the world. Even when times are really bad, it’s important to talk to those around you.”
Ryan has chosen All Call Signs as the beneficiary for any sales from the single. All Call Signs is a UK organisation set up by two veteran soldiers, Dan Arnold and SJ James, in order to help other vets/serving military personnel who may be finding life difficult. They have also created an app which helps locate those reported missing and in need of urgent support.