There is an urgency and direction to the album ‘No Ride Denied’ that suggests these guys have a vision and are going places. I for one am rooting for them to get there. This is a technically excellent and lyrically rich album from a band that has style, sound and substance. Some bands have that big sound, but there’s something missing in the mix.
Freerider also possess the substance that many bands lack and I am confident that their musical panache will keep them afloat in the unpredictable swells of the music ocean today. The band’s unique and refreshingly original sound catapult these guys to a different dimension completely than other bands working within similar genres. Freerider undeniably have a big sound. You don’t mind a big noise when there is artistry behind it and, after listening to ‘No Ride Denied’, the thought came to my mind that “It’s a beautiful noise, a sound that I love….” There are echoes here of Guns N’Roses, Metallica, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Eddie Vedder, the singer who provided the amazing soundtrack to Into the Wild. But to their credit Freerider have crafted and honed a sound all their own, a sound that can be singularly and definitely be called Freerider.
One of the standout songs for me is ‘My Mind Is A Box’ an anthemic track that fluctuates musically from gritty to gentle and the following lyrics reveal a poetic side to this heavy rock band: “A knock, no answer A bell, no sound A whisper across a meadow A scream in the fog” This song has an emotional arc and thrust that show the musical complexity and depth of Freerider. These guys can get pretty complex on you – see where their music takes your mind. In the next track, an insistent, irrepressible metal sound takes hold of you by the throat and won’t let you go, as Todd exclaims: “Will I hate my brother, blame him for my pain? Spend my life in living hell? Will I hear the wisdom and realize? Not always what I want…” A hallmark of this CD is the dramatic changes of tempo, and on ‘Ageless Veins’ Freerider temporarily abandon the thrashing of previous songs for a soft rock approach that breaks down in a comfortable bed of air guitar. This song contains the best lyrics on the entire CD in a song populated with “Lovers, drifters and anglers.” The song paints a vivid picture of a time and place: “In the woods along River Rd.
is a footpath Winding Through giant pines and ancient maples It was well worn for generations…. Satiated desires in the life-giving flow And sunbeams made diamonds that danced” It is probably fair to say that track 7 ‘Crash’ is vintage Freerider. This one ups the ante in terms of sound, technical prowess and showcases kick-ass lyrics (“Gripping the wheel of tomorrow/Steering with nearsighted hands/Ignite the fuel of indecision/Run your race like a last lap mission”) ‘I’m Satisfied’ is a spectral piece bursting with searing lyrics (“Nations rise and fall underneath your feet….A hungry generation stands back looking for a sign/In the midst of all this turmoil/We want some blazing light to shine.” There’s moody riffs, killer hooks and lighter-than-air guitar here. If you can’t get no satisfaction from the music you listen to, check out this song and you will find that you are satisfied acoustically, musically, lyrically.
This peach of a song has it all. The air guitar playing on this one would make Slash sit up and take notice…. This review would be incomplete without a mention of the titular track ‘No Ride Denied’ – a song which picks you up in the desert in the middle of the night and deposits you on a sunlit street the next morning. ‘No Ride Denied’ in its images and dispositon brings to mind one of my favourite films, The Hitcher.
This song has the darkest lines on the CD “The hitchhiker’s sign pleaded No Ride Denied/Testing him for a destination he calmly replied/I’m prying the heads off the nail in the coffins of the living dead…” It’s like something that would come straight off the lips of Rutger Hauer’s character in that knife-edge thriller. “Driving in darkness I pondered the fate of the sick-minded stray.” This is a song that brings to life the vast cast of characters one encounters hitchhiking on the road and the unpredictability of what might come from letting them inside when there is “no ride denied.” Will that mysterious passenger pull a knife or a packet of chewing gum? You just never know. “I’m going your way/Will you go my way?” the “freerider in your headlights” will say. Will you go his way or, as in the Fleetwood Mac song “go your own way.” Surely it’s more fun to have company.
The Freerider guys are the sort to give ‘em all the benefit of the doubt. To their way of thinking, there should be ‘No Ride Denied’. This racy song speeds to its unspoken destination with wonderful musical panache and Freerider’s crisp sound comes to the fore fantastically for a song that represents great musical storytelling. This would be a great song for a road movie, for a sort of postmodern Easy Rider or a (decent) remake of The Hitcher! On the CD credits the original Freerider (Dan Craig) is identified.
The band wonder where he is now… A word should be said about the fine photography and artwork on the CD: the cover offers a silhouetted shot of the Freerider guys in the shadows; flip over and they are pictured in the shadows again, but with a light on their faces. It’s cleverly done. As you open out the liner, you find an image of the map of America; facing it is an inversion of the same image, almost as if the United States is being presented with a counterpoint to itself. It’s almost like a face-off between the ‘American Beauty’ and the American beast, a possibility which arises in some of the lyrics.
All in all, ‘No Ride Denied’ is an expertly mounted piece of musical and lyrical craftsmanship with razor-fine attention to musical detail and songwriting. The Freerider members (Steve Coyne on Guitars and Vocals, Todd Erickson on Bass and Lead Vocals and Jeremy Waybright on Drums and Vocals) are exemplary practitioners of hard rock/Metallica-esque metal music and give a lesson in how this sort of thing should be done. The three players are tight as a drum. Big sound and heavy rock can be drowned in a pool of narcissistic meaninglessness if the lyrics don’t carry weight; in the case of Freerider, their lyrics are loaded with meaning, hidden messages and, sometimes, shimmering poetry.
These are thought-provoking songs, honest and even heart-stopping lyrics which soar on the wings of “Eddie Vedder/Chris Cornell-ish vocals over a thick bed of guitar-drenched, 3-piece groove metal.” In one of their first contacts with me, the band challenged “Put Freerider on 11 and shred some air guitar.” Well it has been well and truly shredded! Freerider describe themselves as “forever in the groove” – the band brings a strong vibe with them. They preach “a Gospel of Grooves, Guitars and Love.” This summer that Gospel is set to reach the east side of the Atlantic and it is exciting to hear that Freerider will be coming to this part of the world. This is a band that is going places and, most importantly, know where they are going, and why. On top of all that, Steve, Todd and Jeremy are just three thoroughly likeable guys.
(Marty McCool Music Reviews) Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..