You don’t go around dishing out the kind of shock to the system Wilson did on their debut and not have your next effort hugely anticipated. Said debut, 2013’s incredible Full Blast Fuckery, was a pipe-bomb of rock ‘n’ roll fury, and the complete antithesis to anything remotely mundane. Churning out boozy party hardcore in the vein of Every Time I Die with the hedonistic abandon and tongue-in-cheek knowingness of Steel Panther, it was as impressive as debuts come and marked Wilson as serious ones to watch. Right To Rise certainly proves that it was no fluke, but it doesn’t really manage to elevate itself to the same lofty standards as its predecessor.
This time, the Detroit quintet have played down the more hardcore sensibilities of their debut, opting in favour of a more straightforward hard rock sound. It’s this that’s one of the main issues; Full Blast Fuckery thrived on spontaneity and unpredictability – its ten songs were the only ten written and recorded for it. By comparison, Right To Rise feels a lot more meticulous in approach, with its twelve songs being whittled down from a much larger number and with there being much more of a focus on pre-production. This time round there are no sub-minute hardcore wig-outs or strange rewound hidden tracks, all meaning that some of their debut’s magic – the possibility of self-combustion and that anything could go wrong at any time – is missing here. Judging by the first two tracks, the title track and Guilty (You’re Already Dead), it would initially seem as though they’ve lost their edge completely – both seem so plodding and prosaic that they’re surprisingly safe and make little impact.
Fortunately these are the only two instances of this, and things firmly reside in much more auspicious territory from them on. Crave resembles Black Stone Cherry at their heaviest but fronted by Cancer Bats’ Liam Cormier, while Windows Down gallops along with the same reckless abandon as appeared throughout their debut. Meanwhile, All My Friends adds some Alice In Chains-style vocals to the mix, and the sludgy, chain-gang blues of The Flood is the most uncharacteristically Wilson thing they’ve ever done, but also one of the best. At their best, they show exactly how they’re still incredibly capable they are at delivering high-octane power rock, and even a couple of relatively forgettable numbers like I Am The Fly can’t take that away. Final track Before I Burn is the best representation of this, and the closest comparison to their earlier material, given the heavier use of frontman Chad Nicefield’s screams (there’s a much greater onus on cleaner vocals this time, but even they’re imbued with plenty of grit) and punishing grooves.
It’s worth remembering when listening to Right To Rise that this isn’t a ‘difficult second album’. It may pale compared to their debut, but it’s Wilson taking their sound in a bold new direction and, for its flaws, it’s largely a success. Even with its shortcomings, Right To Rise is a much more exciting take on a weary sound, and given the time to fully get their heads around their new changes, Wilson could go all the way.
For fans of: Cancer Bats, Halestorm, The Damned Things
Words by Luke Nuttall