Underneath the tip of the rock n’ roll iceberg in a scene that’s become morbidly self aware and deadly serious, Surrey based quartet Dirty Rose inject a syringe full of jest, fun and escapism into their debut album, Rock & Roll Is My Religion. A typhoon of genre differing influences dominate this record, spawning a musical journey that’ll throw you from one side of the century to the other and back again, like a rag doll on a rollercoaster that isn’t strapped in properly.
‘Turn It Up’ and the albums opening lyrics of “Rock n’ roll is my religion, it’s not a fucking disease/Heavy metal is my addiction,” foreshadows the attitude vocalist and X-Factor auditionee Sven Smith, guitarist Ben Draper, bassist Jack Price and drummer Rory Levell bring to the party. Just in case you’d doubted the boys’ intentions though, ‘Turn It Up’ immediately heralds a white hot guitar solo from Draper that’s brimful of feeling, a characteristic that appears throughout the album, and choral shouts of “get the fuck out” echo the exact quote from Skid Row’s 1991 tune of the same name.
Much like the bands’ main influence of Steel Panther, the lyrics are crude, cliche, and clever at the right times by virtue of phrasing and tonality. “Stupid, fucking lazy cu-continue on my way,” is a lyric that appears in ‘Step Off,’ another direct tribute influenced by the film and musical adaptation ‘School of Rock’ as well as the riffs in ‘Don’t Wake Your Parents Up,’ a cautionary tale of one night stands.
Levell’s stadium sized drum fills inflate ‘Heavy Metal Train,’ and Smith’s spoken voiceovers and sound effects add the boat-load of retro nostalgia they set out to ship back to this era, accentuated by prog rock keytar snippets that have Smith utilising his UK Air Guitar Champion skills. ‘Heavy Metal Train,’ ‘Saturday Night,’ and ‘Air Guitar Hero’ all follow in the same vein lyrically; emphasising and embellishing the glam rock traditions of being lazy rebels with hedonistic rockstar ambitions and not settling for anything else, even if it means you can’t pay the rent again this month. Considering that particular claim appears in at least 3 separate tracks, it’s a surprise the lads managed to pay for the album’s recording, (maybe that’s why they can’t pay their rent?)
Among the typically KISS-infused party anthems, ‘80s Baby’ offers a more early 2000’s pop punk approach, whilst the guest death growl breakdown from Break Fifty’s Hugo Knight lends ‘Birthday’ a metalcore heaviness that makes you question if it’s the same band altogether, the track sticking out like a maskless citizen on public transport.
Rock & Roll Is My Religion is a record of genre extremity, a direct tribute to glam rock and it’s party going, sleazy outcast lifestyle; a combination that leaves Dirty Rose at a musical crossroads without a map to guide them. The bands infectious enthusiasm and passion for rock n’ roll however will have them settle into any environment no matter which path they choose.
Rock & Roll Is My Religion is out now independently.