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Frontiers (2013)
Rating: 7.5/10

The loudest band in Toronto is back! Coney Hatch is a Canadian band who released three albums in the early to mid 80s, and one compilation – Best Of Three – in 1992, which would prove to be their last. Thankfully, those hard rockin’ mothers have returned with another slice of slick rock ’n’ roll that features snazzy riffs and big melodies.

As expected, Coney Hatch’s return feels like they’ve never been away, mainly due to the fact that their brand of hard rock – just like AC/DC and the like – can’t really date as it’s so damn simple.

Four is somewhat of a reunion for the band as it features original members Carl Dixon (lead vocals / guitar), Andy Curran (bass / vocals), Steve Shelski (lead guitar) and Dave Ketchum (drums). The band have also enlisted friend and award-winning sound engineer Vic Florencia, who has given this 11-track affair a stripped back, raw feel; meaning that Coney Hatch haven’t necessarily succumbed to modern dynamics in order to keep their original sound fresh.

The album kicks off with the bass-lead ‘Blown Away’, which has an AC/DC stomp and a sleazy edge. It’s rock ’n’ roll through and through as it slowly builds to its infectious chorus, although there is a time when I expected Dixon to rasp, “You, shook me aaallll niiiiight long”, such is its three-chord boogie drive. It’s still a great little tune though, and wouldn’t seem out of place on those early 80s albums.

The album really starts to get going with the sweaty, pulsating ‘Boys Club’ however, which features a killer solo and weighty drum plod as Dixon sneers, “Come on in and close the door”, introducing us to his murky world and a stomping chorus of, “Welcome to the boys club, I can get you in, This is the boys club, give me some skin”. And things just get dirtier from thereon in. ‘Down & Dirty’ lives up to its title; it’s a fluent, albeit simplistic AC/DC fuelled rocker featuring a dominant bass, but the melody is always sweet.

There’s nothing fancy about the return of Coney Hatch. While the lyrics can at times be clichéd, it’s still a ballsy opus that only hints at the modern with the fiery ‘Connected’ and more subtle stains of ‘Revive’ with its heart full of soul. Even so, the band haven’t forgot how to rock and the juggernaut that is ‘We Want More’ wouldn’t seem out of place on the new Black Sabbath opus (13) with its chugging riff, while the twanging trudge of ‘The Devil U Know’ digs its claws in from the off.

I’ve certainly heard louder bands, but when it comes to churning out solid, melodic hard rock music, Coney Hatch will take some beating. It’s hard to believe that it’s almost 30 years since their last studio album, but Four has certainly put these veterans back on the map, and I don’t think it’ll be their last.

Neil Arnold

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