Dead City Ruins have spent the four years since their last album doing exactly what they were doing in the years before that – rocking out all over the place. During that time, they have appropriated an even fuzzier, doomier edge to their sound that, coupled with the title of their album and singer Jake Wiffen’s apparent obsession with Ozzy Osbourne, suggests a closer alignment with their obvious musical heroes and touchstones. Having always name-checked Black Sabbath and Alice in Chains as influences, Never Say Die finally underscores those references without completely erasing other aspects of their sound.
The songwriting here is more focused and tighter than the more rambling riff-infested tunes on the self-titled album, hearkening back to 2011’s Midnight Killer with its shorter, punchier tracks. ‘Devil Man’ kicks things off in a satisfyingly wild fashion, Wiffen unleashing a few good high-pitched wails as the guitar team let loose mayhem around him. First single ‘Bones’ rocks out with the Sabbath-cum-AC/DC vibe Dead City Ruins has always possessed while with ‘Rust and Ruin’ the band explore the world of musical gloom usually inhabited by Alice in Chains. The upbeat rocker ‘We Are One’ sounds almost like a Fozzy song thanks primarily to Wiffen’s vocal likeness to Chris Jericho here (and a few other places).
‘The River Song’ where Dead City Ruins stretch themselves out in a blusier direction, a slower burning, sauntering track in the middle of the running order that proves to be Never Say Die’s surprise packet and hints at inspiration from old-school swamp rock. Final track ‘Lake of Fire’ with its cliched lyrics and lack of direction is the album’s only real let down, a slow build that doesn’t really go anywhere before fading out just as it seems to get going. It takes a little of the shine off a collection of sweet hard rocking tunes whose only other crime is that it feels way too short.
Just like their last two releases, Never Say Die is loaded with good rocking vibes and catchy riffs while also allowing Dead City Ruins to further flex their musical muscles into some unexpected avenues. Another rock solid effort from a band that knows how to deliver.
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