With Kjetil F. Wevling and Knut S. S. Wettre the only surviving Razorbats members from 2015’s critically acclaimed Camp Rock album, many a band would’ve imploded. Replacing musicians may be one thing, but singers? That’s a task. And midway through recording an album? That’s a risk. Flanked by new members Chris Haugerud (bass) and Alse Tangen (rhythm guitar), step forward Paulie Vercouteren to the mic stand. Razorbats II is quite possibly the album that may never have been had it not been for Kjetil and Knut’s sheer determination and refusal to let things die.
So, that risk that I speak of – does it pay off? The Waiting sets out the stall and we’re instantly into that familiar Razorbats sound. Power pop chorus – check! 70s inspired glam rock guitar solo – check! Dropdown middle 8 singalong – check! The voice may have changed but the transgression from old to new is virtually seamless. It’s an invitation for new fans of the band to jump aboard without disgruntling the season ticket holders on their Scandirock ‘n’ roll train.
Razorbats II boasts even more of a nod to the good bits of 1970s classic rock than its predecessor with the cowbell led Take It Out on the Road, the stabby Going Underground and the melodic Bad Teacher. To maintain a punk edge, the Hanoi Rocks influence is ever-present as Sister Siberia borrows a slowed down take on the riff from Motorvatin’ whilst Dead Boy City could easily have sat on an album from the Finns’ Johanna Kustannus years. The lyrical focus of the album is that of the outsider and not belonging, leaving rollicking lead single Social Rejects to do exactly what it says on the tin.
Nowhere is the album highlight for me. It’s upbeat with big riffs and takes a pop at hipsters with beards, man buns and those that brew their own beer. A layered outro of “whoas” and blistering guitar work sit alongside a lead vocal line that invites you for a gang singalong. Great stuff.
The six minute Talk All Night closes the album. A fitting, haunting ballad that could easily have fallen into the cheese aisle at a German supermarket but successfully dodges things to stay on the right side of 80s glam (again, see Michael Monroe and co).
Razorbats took a risk and the risk paid off. Their penchant for big choruses continues as they hark back to the golden days of rock with their own unique, modern twist; balancing things neatly between the old and the new. The Kids of the 70s have matured beautifully and whilst Scandirock may be renowned for its full-tilt garage approach, Razorbats present a more polished, melodic offering that’s equally as impressive and ultimately deserves to be heard. Ginge Knievil