Over the past few years – Australian guitar whiz Joe Matera has built up a strong European following with his melodic, hard rock style proving popular in places like Scandinavia. So when Matera recently joined forces with Swedish outfit Rough Rockers – the pairing seemed a natural fit. Matera was in fact invited to join Rough Rockers after both he and the band undertook support slots for NWOBHM outfit Weapon UK in Sweden in 2017.
This EP titled ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ is the result of that gathering and it’s a release that shows much promise. ‘No More Heroes’ is awash with guitars and keyboards and kicks off proceedings in the strongest way possible. Listen out for the bass run (courtesy of Peter Ljungberg) half way through which is followed by some searing fretwork from Magnus Hällström. ‘No More Heroes’ is very melodic and they’ve picked a strong tune to open with.
‘Murder At Midnight’ opens with a Purple-esqe guitar riff and heads straight into NWOBHM territory. Maybe they’d picked up on that vibe from doing gigs with Weapon a while back, but this is a solid track and it’s two out of two.
The title track has an infectious riff running through it yet the vocals were a little weak for my liking. Musically, it’s on par with the first two tracks, but really could benefit from some loud, roaring vocals on this one.
The likeable ‘Rebel At Heart’ is well written and my choice cut on the EP. Strong points to make note of are Joe Matera’s vocals, the simple but very effective melody and Matera’s wailing axe. The acoustic (or unplugged) version of ‘Rebel At Heart’ which follows is equally superb.
Rough Rockers have been treading the boards since 2012 and have a couple of releases under their belts – including 2013’s Pimped & Poisoned CD which was followed by Overdrive.
Former Rainbow and Alcatrazz frontman Graham Bonnet make a guest appearance, handling the lead vocals on the final track “Unleash The Beast”, in his unique style. Saw him way back in 1988 fronting the Party Boys in Sydney and his powerful vocals were incredible. Bonnet sounds as strong as ever on ‘Unleash The Beast and it closes out the EP in the best way possible – Hällström’s fretwork again something to file away and he, along with Matera are a fairly formidable guitar pairing.
File this 5 track EP under Q for ‘quality’ – it’s a very solid outing from a unit with tons of potential. More please.
‘Smoke And Mirrors’ will be released both on CD and as a special limited 12″ RED vinyl.
Available from RVP Records