Dublin trio New Secret Weapon have been on the go for 7 years, and only now are they releasing their debut album. So they have taken time to hone and fine tune their songs. It seems to have paid off. The album consists of propulsive, high octane, heavy blues rock. Opener The Freak plants the band back in the late 60s, with Hendrix/Cream feel. What sets the band apart is Rian Trench’s punchy production and singer/guitarist Dave Griffin’s vocals which reach all points from Ian Astbury to Jeff Buckley (and several in between).
The album really gets going with the sledgehammer riffs and strutting rhythm of Look At The State of It. This leads nicely into You’re Still Losin‘ which could be one of the heavier tracks on the aforementioned Jeff Buckley’s Grace, with a bit of Queens of the Stone Age fecked in for good measure. Not a band in a hurry, the track takes its time to unfurl, lasting for six and a half minutes. Yet it, and others of similar length manage not to outstay their welcome, largely down to midsections which take the song off into another direction before returning.
The Queens of the Stone Age influence is particularly audible on I Draw Fire Watch, but the brawny track seems to channel that influence and update it, with the rhythm section of Mark O’Connor on bass and Trevor Keogh’s mighty drumming doing a fine job to keep everything on track. Headmelt Radar and Rose have a relaxed, sunkissed feel, with the band finding time to alternately slow down and speed up to thrilling effect. The latter of these gives Griffin’s vocals space to truly own the song, even when joined by glorious, heavy riffs.
The hard-riffing The Epic of Guilgamesh kicks the intensity up a notch or two, but its momentum is arrested by a midsection where all the instruments melt away, and doesn’t quite work, while Griffin and the rest of the band lose the run of themselves at the end of the track. But this is a band who clearly “mean it”. New Secret Weapon clearly have a strong set of influences, yet they manage mostly to transcend them, taking a tired old heavy rock genre to a fresh, new sounding place. A very strong debut and a good approximation of their live show. Have a listen below.