by Derric Miller
– Managing Editor —
An album called Payback Time would seem to be one rife with anger, frustration, darkness and hopefully violence. But Swiss band Silver Dirt almost takes the expression in a new direction on their third album release, with music so professional, melodic, cheerful and catchy that maybe they really mean “it’s time for us to get PAID!” With legendary Beau Hill adding his magic touch to the production and recording of Payback Time, it’s nearly flawless.
If you haven’t been a fan of the prior two studio albums (Sonic Boom and Never Give Up) or DVD, you should probably get on board. The band has evolved, though; they used to lean about 30 percent “silver” to 70 percent “dirt.” Their prior albums were heavier, less polished, and a little messy (in a good way). They flipped that quotient around on Payback Time, and what you get is one of the best Hard Rock albums of the year.
Probably the most testosterone-fueled track is the opener, a galloping composition with some stellar guitar leads. “The Stand” is the band taking a stand, and you’ll hear it on the lyrics “Crush my bones if you like it. Smear my blood on the wall. Smash my head on the pavement … but you won’t get my soul!” Yeah, there’s the aforementioned violence you should be hoping for.
That’s really where anger stops, though. Up next is the uplifting “Spread Your Wings,” a smart, “seize the day” kind of song that kicks you in the ass and sort of reaffirms that we ain’t here forever. Lead singer Peronne used to sing in a Zeppelin cover band and also in a hair band called Sultan. He owns a devastating range but reigns it in and just masters each song. He’s good on this one but better later.
While the band typically plays mid-tempo rockers, hearing a bit of a change on “Place in the Sun” is a deft move by the band. “Place in the Sun” is a real, radio-friendly song. Really depends on what country you live in because in the U.S. good music isn’t played unless on satellite radio, but it SHOULD be played in every country.
Seems the band is giving everyone — including themselves — a pep talk on “Never Give Up.” The band opens with talking about 20 years in the business, meeting so many people they can’t remember, and the speed and attitude will get the blood boiling a bit. Like the first track, it’s manly as hell.
But the best track, the one that should put them on the map, is “Beautiful Day.” This is almost like a Matchbox 20, or a super-mellow Nickelback hit. You could hear Kid Rock and Cheryl Crow singing this one together. It has a modern vibe but sort of an innocence that is surprising. Simple and hooky, you’ll be singing “I’m on my way, it’s a beautiful day. I’m on my way … to you,” over and over after hearing it just one time.
“But we’re big in Japan!” Sure, that’s something bands used to say in defense of their plummeting album sales and concert venues (and they were always right, because Japan loves great Hard Rock music). Silver Dirt has instantly endeared themselves to Japan by writing “Mata Kuru Ze.” Sure, the verses are in English but hearing the gang vocals of the band yelling “Mata kuru ze” during the chorus should make this an instant hit in Japan. Plus, it’s a damn strong composition, like a classic Night Ranger hit. Oh wait … they are big in Japan too. Good.
Payback Time is Silver Dirt evolving beyond their gruffer, drunker, less mainstream early recordings. You can’t use words like “mature” to define their new music, in case it’s taken as an insult, but they have surely evolved from every aspect, from musicianship to songwriting to recording (thanks Beau). Put this on your Christmas wish list even if you are a pagan, heathen, non-Christian or an atheist, because regardless if you agree or not with the reason the world celebrates during this time of year, you’ll want to have Silver Dirt playing at that time.
Genre: Hard Rock
Steff Peronne: lead vocals/guitar
V.G. Richardson: drums
Chris Savourey: guitars
Stefano Ongarello: bass
(Album musicians: Peronne, Richardson and Sicky Lyo on bass and guitar)
1. The Stand
2. Spread Your Wings
3. Spinning the Wheel
4. Place in the Sun
5. Here They Come
6. Never Give up
7. Beautiful Day
8. R.I.P. (The Earth)
9. No More
10. Mata Kuru Ze
11. Beautiful Day (Alternate version)
Hardrock Haven rating: 8.8/10