Album Review: The Rumjacks – ‘Hestia’

With St. Paddy’s Day just around the corner, what better way to celebrate (socially distanced of course) than with the rousing new album from Australian Celtic punk ‘n’ folk band The Rumjacks? Even a Zoom party needs a soundtrack to raise the roof and ‘Hestia’, studio album number five from the Sydney noise-merchants does that in spades.

Having guested on the track ‘Billy McKinlay’ on previous album ‘Saints Preserve Us’, Boston’s own Mike Rivkees (Mickey Rickshaw) is now onboard as new full-time vocalist, on what is undoubtedly the most important album in the history of the band. Anyone sweating over the change in vocalists need not fear though, for ‘Hestia’ is a fucking riot (put on moments like ‘Through These Iron Sights’ and let chaos ensue).

With Australian, Italian, Irish, and now American influences running through the band, ‘Hestia’ (named after the Greek goddess of home and hearth) is a vibrant, creative album that impresses from the off. With its blend of hardcore anger-filled energy, traditional instruments, and sudden dashes of ska, opening track ‘Naysayers’ is a thrilling start to the album. In places, Rivkees sounds like a young Joe Strummer and it’s easy to see why The Rumjacks opted for him to replace previous vocalist Frankie McLaughlin. After the rather-excellent ‘Bullhead’ which showcases the work of Adam Kenny (bouzouki/mandolin), and Pietro Della Sala (drums), the title track lands and offers up one of the many standout moments on the album. ‘Hestia’ is three and a half minutes of storytelling and a well-executed lesson in songcraft; the songs on the album seem to highlight a real growth in the songwriting department, with the title track being just one example.

The Rumjacks’ ability to produce songs that are instantly singable has always been an important weapon in their arsenal, and ‘Sainted Millions’ is one of the best that they have produced. Come 2022 or whenever gigs return without any kind of restrictions, this one will totally slay. As will ‘Lizzie Borden’ with its play on the traditional nursery rhyme and wonderful rhythmic percussive work from Pietro Della Sala and his partner-in-crime Johnny McKelvey on bass. ‘Light in My Shadow’ will tug at the heartstrings of anyone with a drop of Celtic blood in them, and that chorus is made for bellowing out after a skinful. ‘Athens to the North’ is all about the short, sharp power chords from Gabe Whitbourne, and then there is the other side to The Rumjacks; the softer, folk-punk moments like ‘Rhythm of Her Name’, ‘Motion’ and the perfect live set-closer ‘Goodnight & Make Mends’, with the latter adding an authentic, atmospheric touch via the lament of the uilleann pipes.

Although ‘Hestia’ is lengthy, thanks to the variety in the 14 tracks, as well as the immediate anthemic qualities, the album never seems to drag. Keep it in mind when the world reopens and you are looking for an escape from pissed-up students on Paddys Day wearing ‘Kiss Me I’m Irish’ hats and ‘Whale Oil Beef Hooked’ t-shirts.

Purchase ‘Hestia’ here.

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