It takes some serious chutzpah to drop an album after a ten year hiatus but Vancouver-based five-piece Thunderbird nails it. After forming in 2003 and releasing their debut album What’s The Word in 2006, the band scattered around the world — from Australia to Costa Rica.
Now, a decade later, they’ve reunited in the studio to record a 16-track marathon of an album, Heavyweight — and it hits hard.
Thunderbird Revives the Hard Rock Glory Days
The influences of the band’s experiences over the years are undeniable on the record; lead vocalist Marc LaFrance has toured with Bachman & Turner and sung on albums for Mötley Crüe, David Lee Roth, and The Cult. His bandmates Rod Coogan (guitar), Rob Becker (bass), Kelly Stodola (drums) and Tim Rath (bass) have all recorded and toured internationally with a variety of hard rock and progressive rock bands.
Heavyweight features all the elements that drive a classic hard rock tune — heavily distorted guitars, aggressive vocals (sometimes with a little falsetto), repetitive riffs, and shredding solos. Reminiscent of ’70s and ’80s giants like Bad Company and Metallica, Thunderbird has compiled 16 tracks that could easily sneak onto a classic rock playlist undetected.
Appearing fourth on the track listing, the title song features chugging guitar riffs layered with twanging electric melodies while LaFrance wails, “Ain’t no guilt or my despair / Ain’t no heavy weight to bear / Eviscerate my hate / Love my heavy weight!” And if you’re a fan of unsolved mysteries in addition to rock n’ roll, the song’s title is styled as two words, while the album name is kept just as one.
As the record progresses, we’re introduced to a few different vocal styles — first on the sixth track, “The Set-Up,” where we hear a deeper voice flashing glimmers of Bowie on the bridge. A couple songs later — “Leave It Alone” and “Okay” — inject much higher pitches that practically scream “The Who!”
Showcasing versatility as musicians and songwriters, the band sprinkles in a pair of love ballads as well. The softly rolling cymbals and sweet electric guitar melody of “This Sea” almost evoke a John Mayer feel, and show the band’s sensitive side with lyrics like, “But there’s a light that is guiding me to you / to a place that finally is a home / to the arms much softer than I’ve known.”
If it’s overt masculinity and sexual innuendo you’re seeking, however, look no further than “Big Stick” or “On the Prowl.” You’ll get right back on track with weekend conquests and “Cruisin’ the nightclub after dark” — the bread and butter of classic hard rock.
There’s no lack of breakneck drumming, smashing cymbals, or face melting solos on this album. The band shows versatility on every track, while always remaining true to their clear brand of sound. They’ve found an identity and they’re sticking to it.
You can learn more about Thunderbird on their Facebook page or hear Heavyweight on all major digital music platforms: Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify.