Out Now

(Frontiers Records)

If there’s one downside to releasing a jaw-dropping debut it’s that the bar is set impossibly high. Expectations go through the roof. Self-confidence can morph into complacency. And then the pressure kicks in. Second album syndrome is no industry myth. Just ask The Darkness.

Of course Inglorious have been drip feeding highlights of their second long player for several weeks now – simultaneously settling fans’ nerves and assuaging critics’ fears that the retro-fuelled heroes were destined to be nothing more than a fondly remembered flash in the pan and a footnote in the history of homegrown classic rock.

Incredibly Inglorious II has the potential to overshadow what has gone before. There’s the same core songwriting strength, the same authenticity rooted in 70s blues rock and the same bold reliance on live studio takes. The big difference? A colossal contribution from Kevin Shirley.

Remember the first time you heard Black Country Communion’s debut with its deep, deliciously dark and immersive soundscape? Shirley’s shot another lightning bolt of unique creativity through the heart of Inglorious II – perfectly capturing frontman Nathan James’ rich vocal without lazily misplacing the band’s infectious melody in what could easily be a cluttered and confused mix. Inglorious might have the raw potential but nothing beats experience. And Shirley boasts that in spades.

Skip to No Good For You and everything becomes clear. Imagine your favourite pre-‘87 Whitesnake anthem squeezed into less than three-and-a-half minutes of James-inspired magic – it’s ambitious, amplified, aspirational classic rock. I Don’t Need Your Loving and Taking The Blame are hewn from a similarly rich seam of Deep Purple/Rainbow-inspired material but there are frequent changes in pace and tone.

Ballad Faraway is a sparkling example: in fact, it’s a slight disappointment when the haunting, stripped down first verse segues into more familiar fist-pumping territory. Read All About It is a red hot contender to open the band’s live shows and at a time when intros are getting painfully short, stirring set closer High Class Woman leans on 45 seconds of pure guitar-fuelled joy to usher in a belter of an anthem.

Those looking for an opportunity to topple Inglorious from their self-appointed perch as saviours of homegrown rock will be sorely disappointed. This is the sound of a band that’s transformed serious potential into proven quality.