For such a small country our pedigree in the art of the straight ahead rock band is impressive. Nobody needs any reminding of the manner in which Thin Lizzy and a young U2 really captured the attention of the world, but this has trickled down successfully on a smaller scale to the likes of Ash, The Script and to a lesser extent again the magnificent Bosvolenti – to varying degrees of success and quality admittedly, but on the whole it’s something we seem quite good at or are at least consistent.
It seems Luke & The Epics are very much conceived on the principle of no frills hard rock. This is not necessarily a bad thing and although the band’s riffs and big drum sound would undoubtedly be impressive in a live setting, on record one can only come to the conclusion that we’ve maybe stretched this formula to its limits.
Opener and title track, Reload, is a like a B-side from a more introspective ACDC. The playing is well executed but the whole thing (complete with football chant chorus) is painfully predictable. This trend runs through the whole EP until it inevitably runs out of steam. Friday Night is frankly as ridiculous as its title. Despite it’s big riffs and chest beating, this is straight ahead pop of the Jesse Jay ilk, the type of pop tune Dave Navarro would show up on. Dream Taker has a beautiful intro riff of real flair and power but when again the quiet/loud dynamics are utilised the whole thing swiftly splutters to a halt.
There are glimpses of promise. Collide is a sharp right turn from the rest of the album. It boasts an almost funky riff complete with Robbie Williams-esque vocals which is more rewarding than it sounds. It shows a willingness to think off-centre which is absent elsewhere. It all goes Bon Jovi with the concluding guitar solo but it shows a band with admirable musical chops all the same. Little of what on offer here is truly bad. Its worst crime is its persistent footing in the arena of pedestrian hard rock. The truly great rock bands are the ones that instil a sense of danger and unpredictability to proceedings. Luke & The Epics need to do the same to even approach being memorable.