Review: Piston – Self-titled Debut Album

After taking the risky decision to scrap an album’s worth of material, up and coming English rockers Piston went back into the studio in order to improve on what they had, and make their self-titled debut album really stand out. A ballsy move indeed, which judging by the universal praise showered on the final product, was the correct decision.

Piston must have been confident that the fresh material was miles ahead of the tracks that they scrapped, and that confidence seeps out of the speakers as soon as opening track ‘Dynamite’ announces itself on the world. It’s a fairly instant way to begin the album, no slow-burning intro or gradually easing the listener in, it’s 1-2-3 then go! The shortest of the ten tracks that make up the album, its sets up the album rather nicely for what’s to follow. ‘Rainmaker’ has brought Piston some valuable attention from Planet Rock Radio, and it’s easy to see why. Musically, very Rival Sons influenced, especially through the meaty riffs from lead guitarist Jack Edwards, ably backed up by his six string compadre Luke Allatt. It has a fantastic swagger to it, it’s confident without being cocky or flash, and it’s easy to see why Planet Rock Radio quickly got onboard.

On ‘Go Now’ Piston want to “party like it’s ‘89”, a hugely significant year for rock music as besides ‘Pump’, ‘Sonic Temple’, ‘Dr Feelgood’ and Tom Petty’s ‘Full Moon Fever’, 1989 also brought Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana and Soundgarden. Rock was evolving, and the writing was on the walls for “hair metal” acts. One of the bands unfairly lumped in with the big-hair mob were Little Caesar, I say “unfairly” as they looked more like a biker gang than Poison wannabees. Little Caesar released their debut EP in 1989 and followed it up a year later with their incredible self-titled debut album. The long hair and tattoos hid the fact that LC were a very soulful band, and I pick up on that same soul influence within Piston. You can’t list Aerosmith, The Temperance Movement, Rival Sons and The Small Faces as artists you like on your facebook page without a soul influence running in the background. ‘Go Now’ (remember, the one I mentioned what seems like ages ago!) is Piston at their soul-drenched best, it has a delicious groove and a worldy vocal performance from Rob Angelico, who does possess that same gritty, realistic voice as LC frontman Ron Young.

The remainder of the album flies by in a blink of an eye. Beginning with ‘Carry Me Home’ – a gorgeous mix of electric and acoustic guitars and a vocal performance that sounds like it was nailed in one take – continuing with a modern Foo Fighters-vibe on ‘One More Day’; the hard-as-nails ‘Beyond Repair’ (top work from the engine room team of drummer Brad Newlands and bassist Stuart Egan); the confrontational ‘Leave If You Dare’ (complete with a rasping guitar solo mid-song) and lashings of hook-laden rock on ‘Blow It All Away’. Then there is the killer one-two of closing tracks ‘Let Us Rise’ and ‘Into The Night’, two very different examples of the variation on this album.

It would be unfair to make an attention-seeking comment along the lines of – Piston are an arena band in the making – because we live in a world where The 1975 actually are an arena band. So let’s just say that Piston have produced a very strong, varied debut album, and with their gig diary rapidly filling up, the future is looking bright. Let’s not mention The 1975 ever again, deal?

‘Piston’ is available now, for all up to date tour dates, connect with the band here.

Review – Dave

Band image on header – Rob Blackham

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