Brendan Franz (Former weekly writer and reviewer “Rip It Up” Magazine)
LOADED BILLY – ‘LEGEND’ ALBUM July 2022. Loaded Billy are an Adelaide based hard rock band. Their sound owes much to the NWOBHM movement and is reminiscent of classic “British Steel” era Judas Priest, early Def Leppard and bands like Budgie.
The latter is unashamedly a strong influence on the boys, since they’ve chosen to include a superb cover of Budgie’s “I Turn To Stone” on the CD, which serves as a fitting tribute to Budgie’s founder Burke Shelley who was tragically lost earlier this year.
As for the album itself, “Legend” is a semi-conceptual affair, focussing on the tale of a boy and a girl who each leave behind modest rural upbringings for the lure and promise of excitement in the big smoke. Suffice to say it doesn’t end well for our heroes, but Loaded Billy are as much focussed on the journey as they are the outcome.
The vocals are confident and solid, for the most part avoiding the kind of clichéd acrobatics we’ve come to expect from the hard rock genre, leaving the listener with space enough to absorb and contemplate the actual words, rather than the delivery.
And that’s a good thing, since Loaded Billy seem to have worked hard on lyrics which are both meaningful and steer clear of all that “ooh yeah baby let’s fuck” subject matter which otherwise dominates the bone-head end of hard rock music.
Oh yeah, and there’s a nice little lyric book with the CD too.
The guitar sound is warm but heavy, punctuated by rolling riffs and thoughtful solo breaks – no angry beehives here – just searing licks which complement the music perfectly. For the most part it’s one cool riff after another, however Loaded Billy also occasionally take time out for some haunting acoustic passages.
The rhythm section of bass and drums is also exceptionally tight, underpinning everything with precision and punch. The drums sound crisp and robust, cutting through the mix without dominating.
It’s obvious from the opener “Devil Holds The Tin” that this band aren’t mucking about, as one solid performance follows another, and we take a hiatus from our storyline mid-way through the album for the epic eight and a half minute trilogy “Diablo (pts 1,2 and 3).”
I reckon I should comment here that many of the songs are LONG, and I think that’s primarily because Loaded Billy have got a lot to say, with 7 of the 11 tracks topping the 6-minute mark. It’s an endurance event, but one well worth staying the distance.
For an album which appears to have been recorded and produced without the big-budget assistance of Record Label backing, “Legend” is indeed an impressive effort which should stand up on its own. The production is as flawless as the performances themselves.
Loaded Billy have a loaded cannon here – what happens next is anyone’s guess but I wish them all the luck in the world!