Thunder – Dopamine review: Hard-pressed to find a better hard rock album this year

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The arena-packing rock quintet hit more peaks than a sherpa on piece-rate on this pandemic-penned 16-track double album. Songs range from all-out bangers like Across The Nation to the unexpectedly jazzy nightclub feel of Big Pink Supermoon.

Gospel-tinged blues rocker Even If It Takes A Lifetime, with its irresistible chorus, sounds like it should have been written in the US Deep South rather than noticeably less swampy South London.

Thunder’s roots are in the heritage rock of Free, Zeppelin and UFO but they aren’t copyists and they don’t sound remotely dated. Driving opener The Western Sky starts with a crunchy guitar riff and builds to a catchy pre-chorus, followed by an even stronger chorus, before treating us to Luke Morley’s nifty Arabian-flavoured lead break.

His solo on Big Pink Supermoon is even better and his twin guitar interplay with Ben Matthews on dark, menacing rocker Black works a treat.

Tough tasty rock abounds. There’s UFO-reminiscent The Dead City, and Dancing In The Sunshine which hits like a more melodic AC/DC. But there’s intelligence and playfulness at work too. You could imagine Jacques Brel singing Just A Grifter in a smoky Parisian nightclub.

There’s a touch of Bowie in the sombre I Don’t Believe The World and an echo of The Who on the staccato intro to One Day We’ll Be Free Again.

Danny Bowes, a terrific singer, is at his best on the ballads Is Anybody Out There? and Unraveling (which suggests their spelling is unravelling).

I love the soulful middle eight and Morley’s neat but too-brief spiralling guitar break.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better hard rock album this year.



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