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Spinefarm (2013)
Rating: 9/10

For those not in the know, Swedish guitarist Dregen was one of the founders of Backyard Babies and The Hellacopters, and for this debut solo record has also taken up vocal and songwriting duties for what I can only describe as one of 2013’s hottest releases.

Nothing beats an album that expresses oomph, ups the gears and spits in the face of those watered-down wannabes. Fans of brash rock ’n’ roll who have lapped up the likes of The Last Vegas over recent years will no doubt find much to savour here as Dregen leads us through a batch of sordid stompers. There is something so instant and fun about this ten-track platter, the sort of raunchy, riotous affair that’ll have you drinkin’ and smokin’ until your heart’s content.

At the table, Dregen is joined by former Entombed / The Hellacopters man Nicke Andersson, who provides rhythm guitar, bass and drums on three tracks, and with him comes drummer Karl Rockfist (Michael Monroe / Danzig) and bassists Sami Yaffa (Hanoi Rocks / New York Dolls / Michael Monroe / Joan Jett) and John Calabresse (Danko Jones).

And so to the music… and what a record this is! From the opening strains of ‘Divisions Of Me’, with its punk attitude and glittery romp, there’s no stopping this kid who snarls, “I always wanted to be, reanimated and free” over a sleazy guitar twang before we’re kicked in the balls by the vigorous, piano-tinged chorus.

But it’s with the superb ‘Just Like That’ where Dregen really finds his feet. This is easily one of the best rock ’n’ roll tracks I’ve heard in the last decade, let alone last year, as it stomps with that glam strut and Dregen’s swaggering vocal. Chorus-wise it’s pure bubblegum rock – the hooks are dirty but you’ll be coming back time and time again to this tale of raunchy ’n’ roll.

The variety on offer here is spectacular to say the least, as the sublime ‘Flat Tyre On A Muddy Road’, with its bluesy, country drool and killer vocal snarl accompanied by Swedish female singer Titiyo, lashes its leathery whip, wiping the floor with ‘Just Like That’ to herald a new king on the throne.

With only three tracks in I’m dazzled by the talent this guy has and wondering where this album is going to go, and wondering if I care beyond this trio of masterful rock ’n’ roll romps. But the riff heavy ‘Gig Pig’ is just as pleasing, boasting an air of the sinister with its menace and slamming percussion, while ‘Pink Hearse’ and ‘Bad Situation’ go straight for the throat, contrasting in styles but both equally bruising.

‘One Man Army’ is a direct sleaze groover with feisty handclaps, 70s strut and Rolling Stones vibe. In contrast, ‘6-10’ is a slow-burner creeper with disco beat and industrialised vocal sneer, again showcasing the varying moods and emotions of this smorgasbord of a record. Each track is a one way ticket to rock ’n’ roll Babylon, often unpredictable, yet always fulfilling to the maximum, reaching into the depths of anarchy yet also reflection as it slithers through the buzzing shimmy of ‘Refuse’ to the climatic wildfire of ‘Mojo’s Gone’.

Dregen’s debut outing achieves its aim of leaving us breathless on the floor and with a smattering of influences it’s no doubt the sort of album you’ll be spinning to keep the party going. All hail Dregen, the new king of rock ’n’ roll.

Neil Arnold

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