In early 2020, when the whole world seemed to be going crazy (not the current flavor of crazy, mind you), we almost nearly had an incredible find sneak under our radar. Thankfully, very little escapes the Sonic Perspectives Central Listening Outpost, and we got to experience the best damned melodic hair metal act out of India, namely Girish and the Chronicles, with their “Rock the Highway” album. Feel free to click that link to experience our initial “where the hell did these guys come from?” reaction to this group of rising stars. If you want the “TLDR” summary, titular guitarist and vocalist Girish Pradhan and his presumed brother Yogesh (bass, keys, producer) are teamed up with old mates Suraz and Nagen on lead guitar and drums respectively to deliver what is the most faithfully authentic revival of Sunset Strip hair metal we have heard here in quite some time. It is in this moment of 2022 that we get to hear their third album, “Hail to the Heroes.” Let’s check it out.
The opening track “Primeval Desire” gives us a few big slow thundering hits of the whole band, guitars, bass, and drums, before the rapid snare slams us into a huge series of riffs. The only thing bigger than the riffs would be the vocals of Girish himself, which are like some frightening fusion of the timbre of Kip Winger with the raw power of Russell Allen. Bassist and producer Yogesh may have been further emboldened by our praise for his bass chops in our previous review, because the bridge pickup steps up to the mic halfway into the song to deliver some tasty licks, prior to a guitar solo with about as much whammy action as any tremolo system could possibly handle. The backing vocal choruses range from the powerful to the melodic, and underscore the track quite well.
The second track, “Children of the Night,” may just open with one of the coolest riffs of the entire album. In spite of the title, the track has no resemblance to Whitesnake, but this does not prevent it from riffing away at the rhythm guitar as well as anything John Sykes ever did. The song lyrics suggest that we make like Nigel and crank the amp to 11, and we just might. This one rocks. Subsequent track “I’m not the Devil” appears to be a straightforward rocker from the outset, but it melts down devilishly halfway in, and then leads into some alternating-open note riffing and a blistering guitar solo.
“Love’s Damnation” dials back the tempo a little, which sets the stage for some very nice Leppard-esque delay/reverb effects on the rhythm guitar chords and the snare hits, really bringing home the arena rocker feel. Aside from some really nice guitar scales in the track, and some solid bass guitar foundations, it’s the lighter-in-the-air chorus that makes this one memorable. Before we can start thinking GATC strictly lives in a groove of hair-metal headbangers, “Clearing the Blur” demonstrates how the band can flex their melodic know-how. Smart, conservative keyboard application, a memorable chorus structure, and a calming bridge section with slow, sensual guitar leads all come together to make for a versatile and varied track. Along similar lines is the track “Lovers’ Train,” which adroitly two-steps back and forth between ballad and arena rocker. While “Rock and Roll Jack” is certainly a return to straightforward rock and metal, its primary party trick may be Yogesh going all Billy Sheehan on the bass, with great success. Sorry, we love that stuff.
When the title track “Hail to the Heroes” arrives, it is preceded by a minute of clean guitar chords plucked out into individual notes, ascending and descending a few times on the guitar fingerboard before the band opens up with full power before going quasi unplugged for a few bars to allow some lead vocal spotlight, before dialing up the gain on the amps one more time to riff us into the big chorus. While this one may not have any specific bells and whistles, aside from a massive, isolated gang chorus vocal section, what it does is give the album a very solid anthem for live touring.
“Shamans of Time” demonstrates some gorgeous steel-string acoustic playing, and even some haunting vocal reverb a la early Led Zeppelin, before dirty grungy distortion guitar has some interesting interplay with the ongoing acoustic picking. As a whole, it is giving off vibes very much like the two unplugged bonus tracks from the 2018 release of Dokken’s “Return to the East” album, until about three minutes in when everything gets all proggy without any warning. We somehow went from Bon Jovi to Shadow Gallery in the course of 20 seconds, and you know what? Hell with it, it’s cool. We dig it. Fly that freak flag! The song finishes up like your standard cowboy wanted dead or alive, but we are not going to forget the prog-metal moment, GATC. This is going on your permanent record.
Things get a little minor, and the vocals get a little Coverdale for “Heaven’s Crying” to draw us close to the end. The tempo is restrained, the keyboards set the mood, and the guitar chords are big. This is a fair summary of the first half of the song, before things start getting a little darker and heavier, incorporating synth strings and some massive vocal crescendos. Given the nature of the “last” track, we sort of consider “Heaven’s Crying” to be the actual album end, and who doesn’t love a big dramatic finisher that starts low and slow and gradually builds up to a big finish? With that in mind, the album actually closes with a fun little rocker featuring Chris Adler on drums. “Rock’ n’ Roll Fever” is all metal, from beginning to end, and cannot be cured, even by cowbell.
If we are doing direct comparison of this, the latest album by Girish and the boys, against its predecessor, “Rock the Highway,” both are good, albeit in different ways. “Rock the Highway,” has some cool tricks, but so does “Hail to the Heroes.” The new album may even be a smidgen heavier than the previous record, and yet, somehow it feels more mature and more refined. To summarize, if you already liked the previous work by Girish and the Chronicles, you are almost guaranteed to love “Hail to the Heroes.” It is every bit the equal to the band’s previous body of work, perhaps even better still. If you are not familiar with the band, check out some of the videos. If you like one song, chances are you will love the whole album.
Released By: Frontiers Music SRL
Release Date: February 11th, 2022
Genre: Hard Rock
- Girish Pradhan / Vocals, Rhythm Guitars
- Yogesh Pradhan / Bass, Keys, Primary Music Producer
- Suraz Sun / Lead Guitars
- Nagen Nags / Drums
“Hail to the Heroes” track listing:
- Primeval Desire
- Children of The Night
- I’m Not the Devil
- Love’s Damnation
- Clearing the Blur
- Lovers’ Train
- Rock and Roll Jack
- Hail to The Heroes (intro)
- Hail to The Heroes
- Shamans of Time
- Heaven’s Crying
- Rock N’ Roll Fever (Featuring Chris Adler, Myrone, Rowan Robertson)
With this third album release, more polished, well-written, and expertly-produced, it is now clear that Girish and the Chronicles are not just a momentary novelty of Sunset Strip Hair Metal from the Indian Subcontinent. They are the real deal and they are here to stay