With its stomping rhythm, massive glam rock infused guitar chords and rousing vocal, Silveroller’s debut single ‘Hold’ immediately marked out the band as one to watch. There wasn’t anything particularly unique about the track, but it was a near perfect example of great musicians taking an old sound and recycling it with a lot of charm. With that followed by the mellow ‘Come On, Come In’ showcasing the flip side of the Silveroller sound, there was definitely a feeling that their upcoming debut EP might be something rather special.

On their eagerly awaited six tracker ‘At Dawn’, the five piece band throw themselves head first into a world of great 70s derived riffs. There are plenty of nods to obvious influences, but there’s very much a feeling that these lads have some fine musical talents of their own, which coupled with some solid song writing, leads to a great listen. It might even be fair to say a couple of tracks here outshine those earlier singles when it comes to an unashamedly retro sound.

‘Black Crow’ leads things off very effectively via an intro where a blast of old style organ builds tension, before a massive blues rock guitar hits the listener with a massive, swaggering riff. Aaron Keylock’s tones recall Krissy Matthews, recycling blues tones with a pinch of rock, leading to a great crossover sound. That should be enough to attract several ears, but the way drummer Joe Major holds down the groove even further with a solid rhythm suggests that Silveroller come with more muscle than most. The decision to break up the swaggering guitar riff with great stops to allow a very emotive vocal to cut through further accentuates the band’s old fashioned heart, showing frontman Jonnie Hodson to be in possession of a very strong voice and an unwavering talent, but its a funky interlude and a couple of superb fills from the bass that really lifts everything beyond the realms of blues rock predictability. All things considered, though, this is great. It’s got a little of everything: a superb riff, an emotive vocal, a strong solo and a simple hook. If this doesn’t pull people in, very little else will.

Conveying a similar energy, the bustling ‘Other Side’ shows off some brilliantly angry slide guitar work set against a blanket of keys, before dropping back into a more melodic chorus where harmony vocals accentuate a very 70s sound. As before, its clear how well the musicians gel; the marriage of Keylock’s more aggressive guitar sound and Hodson’s emotive voice is perfect, and the taut rhythm section approach their roles with absolute precision. With the rockier aspects eventually giving way to a mid section and solo that sounds like something lifted from a mid 70s Allman Brothers disc, and the presence of a very natural chorus, there’s plenty here to enjoy for blues and rock fans alike, but with an unexpectedly punchy coda – conveying a vaguely Zeppelin-esque quality – it packs a lot of Silveroller’s preferred sounds into a really tight four minutes. Bringing a huge Faces influence, ‘Turn To Gold’ has a sound that could have easily propped up a Rod Stewart LP from before 1974, albeit with arguably better vocals. The melody immediately latches on to a very buoyant rhythm, and a more spacious approach to arrangement really allows for the bass to shine through. For lovers of the style, it’ll be an immediate hit, but by the time Aaron delivers an especially lyrical sounding lead guitar break and the band crank the volume a little more, this number has all the makings of a modern classic with a very old soul. …And the very subtle nod to Rick Wright along the way? That’s especially smart.

With a quiet intro sharing some subtle guitar lines and an opening verse focusing on a mellow, almost rootsy sound, ‘Ways of Saying’ at first encourages unavoidable comparisons with Bad Company. This, of course, isn’t necessary a bad thing, and hearing Jonnie dial back his big voice brings a different kind of listening pleasure. His chosen tones are perfect for the job in hand, and with Aaron following suit sharing a few very clean guitar lines, the tune has a great atmosphere. Then, with their listeners settled into a laid back vibe, Silveroller wheel out one of this release’s heavier riffs – this time tapping into something obviously Zeppelin-esque. Against the bluster, Jonnie lets out a huge roar, and a rousing gang vocal adds to the pure force. Listen more closely, and you’ll discover something that’s a little more layered: James Jake Cornes is there, playing up a storm with some really busy bass – which is, unfortunately, just a little too low in the mix – and keys man Ross Monro fills a huge amount of space throughout with an impressively busy style indebted to a couple of 70s greats. This track comes with more of a predictable air, but it has an immense power from a classic rock perspective. In some ways, the guitar riffs are in danger of dwarfing almost everything else, but there’s little doubt that this track would sound absolutely immense during the band’s live shows.

The early singles – ‘Hold’ and ‘Come On, Come In’ – also sound great as a larger body of work. The glam stomp of ‘Hold’ somehow sounds even bigger, and the track’s stomping groove holds up incredibly well against some of ‘At Dawn’s punchier tunes. During these energised four minutes, listeners will find themselves immersed within a few of Aaron’s more abrasive guitar sounds, but in true Silveroller style, the aggression is balanced out by great melodies, and in this case, a harmony driven chorus – with hints of ‘Southern Harmony’ era Black Crowes – and a subdued interlude where the organ swirls and dances beneath a pumping bass help to make Silveroller appear more well rounded, musically speaking.

Closing an already strong release, Silveroller save their best track for a beautifully atmospheric finish. The opening bars and quiet verses of ‘Come On, Come In’ owe a massive debt to those early Black Crowes ballads and the more sedate tracks from the Faces back catalogue, setting something in place with a truly classic sound. However, there’s something much richer at stake, and the track that gradually unfolds more than demonstrates this band have their own set of melodic skills. As with ‘Turn To Gold’, the interplay between the more muted elements of the guitar and a warm bass are pivotal to making it work, and Cornes arguably puts in his finest performance this time out with a really subtle bassline that gives the track a genuine heart. By the time the band inevitably decides to rock things up, the musicianship remains second to none. The featured solo has a huge amount of fire; the heavy rhythm has a natural power, and the louder vocal sounds ready to challenge some of rock’s major talents. Falling squarely between the rockier parts of ‘Other Side’ and the rootsy sounds of ‘Turn To Gold’, it’s peak Silveroller – the perfect end to a great EP, but also a great primer for (hopefully) great things to come.

Often, when it comes to hard rock and blues rock, it’s better to take established sounds and rework them flawlessly, than try to be smart. This theory certainly hadn’t escaped the young British band. Although it sometimes sounds like the sum of its classic influences, with six tracks and no obvious filler, ‘At Dawn’ is a superb debut – long enough to build plenty of excitement, yet short enough to cast aside any filler, or induce listener burnout. Its best bits definitely make good on any promise suggested by the pre-release singles. There’s a lot of talk about a “new wave of classic rock” (an oxymoron if ever there were) and already a thriving underground UK blues rock scene, leading to a lot of competition out there, but on the basis of this very confident set of songs and with a foot solidly in both camps, Silveroller deserve huge success.

January 2024