EP Review : Dead Man’s Whiskey – Breakout

Review by Peter Coates – www.facebook.com/InsideEdgePhotography

Released – October 1 st 2021

Dead Man’s Whiskey are a hard rock band from London UK. Formed in 2016, the 5-piece bring a powerful blend of classic and modern rock, combining heavy riffs with anthemic choruses and stadium sized power ballads.

Following the release of their 2017 debut album Under the Gun, and perhaps the re-mastered and re-packaged 2019 version, Dead Man’s Whiskey have wasted no time in becoming one of the UK’s hottest up and coming hard rock acts.

After more than a year of lockdowns, writing and recording, the band are back with a 5 track EP, expertly produced by John Mitchell, also known for his work with Alter Bridge, Architects, Enter Shikari and Inglorious. What they have pulled together is a slab of four gritty classic rockers, and a piano-version of an older track that provides a take on the separation from family caused by the UK’s extended lockdown.

The EP kicks off with a melodic lead guitar line, with the band crashing in with some power chords before the riff proper, and the gruff vocals of Nico Rogers in the verse. The surprise here in Sleep When I’m Dead, is the supremely catchy and harmonic chorus, and a totally different vocal sound from Nico that really stands out – soaring, pure and powerful. We get a cracking solo from Billy Kons before another round of the chorus, and a crushing take on the riff as the close of the track.

A real groove underpins the twin-guitar assault of the riff of I Am Here with James Titley on Bass and Charlie Gray on Drums setting down a super-tight backing, while Nico lets rip on the vocals. Billy throws out another very slick solo, and there is a sense of organised chaos in the structure of the track which allows the guys to get really loose, without ever losing the power of the song.

The title track of the EP, Breakout, is more of a straight-up rocker – straight out of the 1980’s melodic hard rock archives, but with 2021 production values. Nico’s voice continues to impress, able to deliver right on the edge of his impressive range, without losing any control or tone. There is some great crowd-shout backing vocals, a cowbell-driven off-beat groove, and another scintillating solo, before the mid-section, key-change, and climactic ending.

There is another crushing riff to open up Never Ever, with Elliott D’Alvarez laying down the powerful guitars while Billy stretches the vocoder to breaking-point with a rough melody before the verse. The guitars appear to swap breaks in the solo section, showing two styles of quality guitar breaks – never over the top, but with real bite and passion.

Having not heard the original of Make You Proud before, I hunted it down on YouTube and found a pretty good rock ballad that builds up into a solid and powerful back-end. The guys had played this live with a pianist, and decided to re-record with just the piano accompaniment to Nico, whose vocals are more mature and pure than the original, which really suits the stripped-back feel of this version.

I caught the band live in London in 2019 opening for Stone Broken and was suitably impressed with what I saw and heard – Nico has an impressive stage presence, and a touch of self-deprecating humour, while Billy is one of those guitar-slingers who make a photographer’s job a joy! Roll on 2022 and beyond when there may be a chance of seeing them live again!

Pre-order the EP here – https://deadmanswhiskey.co.uk/merch

Useful Links:

Website : https://deadmanswhiskey.co.uk/

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/DeadMansWhiskey/

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/deadmanswhiskey/

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwxVAN2j-LvQ7PZek5xL_AA

Live show photos taken in 2019 in London
Photos by Peter Coates