February 11, 2023

….this ability to churn out brilliant riffs is what sets Driptorch apart from many of the metal groups around today.

You could be forgiven for never having heard of Driptorch. They were formed in Nuremburg in Germany back in 2015, released one EP, and then went silent. That is, until now with the digital-only release of their first full length album, Deadrock City Nights. Hailing from Germany, one might expect some good Teutonic names for Driptorch’s members, but instead they go by the stage names of Dando, Mando and Candy, which to me sounds more like a bunch of characters from The Muppets rather than a German rock band! In any case, Dando and Mando are the guitarists and on drums we have, no, not Animal, but Candy. Dando is also the singer and contributes bass (apparently, they went through a number of bass players without finding the perfect fit and chose to remain without a dedicated bass player).   

Driptorch in a relaxed moment

The multiple sub-genres of metal have become so well defined that often you can pigeon-hole a group within seconds of first listening to a track by them. That I guess could be an advantage if you are keen on a particular sub-genre and looking out for more of the same but for the casual listener it can be disconcertingly predictable. For this reason, bands like Driptorch are refreshing because they bridge those musical sub-genres boundaries, creating something different. One of the reasons for this is probably the fact that Dando and Candy had already played together in a punk rock band while Mando came from the death and heavy metal scene. All of these influences can be heard in their music.

The album kicks off with the short and slightly throwaway instrumental Astro Wave, but that is followed by We Are Them which really gets things underway. It opens with a strong classic heavy rock feel, sounding remarkably like Black Sabbath around the Sabotage or Technical Ecstasy period, with a fine Iommi-like riff and vocal intonation just like Ozzy. But within a minute, the Sabbath spell vanishes as we get the first taste of growling vocals. These are also from Dando which is a remarkable demonstration of his range since I’d have sworn it was a different singer. At almost seven minutes, it is the longest track, but has plenty of twists and turns that keep it interesting, and it is one of the highlights of the album.

The ability to churn out groove-laden riffs is a skill the band certainly have.  Zender is another song graced by a fabulous riff, again with a touch of Iommi but with more of a stoner feel this time. The only negative thing I can say about this song is that using the hook line ‘we don’t need no education’ causes an instinctive reaction to sing about thought control (instead for the next line we get ‘we destroy your satisfaction’ which seems out of place!). That stoner feel also appears in other tracks. Queen Of Dust, possibly the standout track on the album, is characterized by a couple of epic mid-paced stoner riffs, even if the vocals are then delivered in a more punk/hardcore style. The closing piece, Caecilia, also has a stoner feel to it, this time in more restrained fashion, demonstrating that the band is more than capable of writing good material without bludgeoning the listener.

In the more punk/hardcore tracks, Dando’s vocals are sometimes reminiscent of Lemmy, or at least Lemmy with a sore throat. Motorhead are cited as one of the influences on the group so that may not be a coincidence. I am not a fan of hardcore myself so tracks more in that genre like Klaw and Slowing Down didn’t really appeal to me, but even in Slowing Down, there’s a fantastic thirty seconds of riffing (beginning at the 1:20 mark). Other bands that are more parsimonious with their riffs could have taken that one and built a whole song around it, but this ability to churn out brilliant riffs is what sets Driptorch apart from many of the metal groups around today. These riffs are also so strong that you barely notice the absence of any lengthy guitar solos. Deadrock City Nights is certainly one of the best debut albums I’ve heard recently and it’s well worth checking out.