An album with a couple of gems but otherwise stuffed full of sound and not many hooks.
'Back To Zero' is the debut album from Hard Rock trio Ragdoll. They blend more modern elements into their sound than many of their Australian compatriots, but without losing the riffs of Hard Rock and even flashes of Progressive Rock.
If you're looking for the glitter of the eighties or the swagger of the seventies, you won't find it here. Ragdoll offer their music up cleanly and without frills. 'Shine' opens with Ryan Rafferty's slightly rough-edged vocals along with a pacey Hard Rock vibe. 'Playing God' and 'The World You Gave Us' are both average tracks, they tend to lose their edge in the chorus where the music becomes more over-produced, less melodic and without style. The bridges, solos and verses, however, are laced with bold guitar fills and even some Grungier passages.
'Rewind Your Mind' is a little bit more fun, if only because it moves away from the first few tracks. Fusing rippling guitar with passionate vocals makes for a good contrast of pace, while the heavier chorus stands solidly on its own musical personality. 'RYM' has Leon Todd channelling Sixx:A.M. in his furious guitar solo. Ragdoll aren't quite in the Alternative scene, say... like Blessed By A Broken Heart or My Darkest Days, but they certainly swing towards that crowd at times.
Two tracks stand out for their catchiness and for really showing what Ragdoll is capable of. 'Letting Go' is the more modern of the two; the verse, interjected with well-placed backing vocals, steamrollers into the punchy chorus. The energy lets the Hard Rock shine through from Todd's guitar work without losing the modern veneer Ragdoll give their songs. The second track is 'Love On The Run'; Rafferty handles the higher notes well, with them even eliciting some wonderful coarseness to his voice. This melodic track pumps with eighties hooks and Stadium Rock-style riffs.
These two tracks aside, however, it is the more Modern/Alternative sound of Ragdoll that 'Back To Zero' predominantly brings out. Though fairly young, Ragdoll have supported Skid Row in the USA and played at Rocklahoma. Unlike SR, however, I feel the band don't own a sound in the same way, perhaps merging too blandly heavier elements with a clean, produced modern style. The result is an album with a couple of gems but otherwise stuffed full of sound and not many hooks.