Album Of The Week: White Reaper – Asking For A Ride

Our pick of the week's new releases is the big, bold and utterly brilliant fourth full-length from the Kentucky quintet

Is there a more outlandishly fun band than White Reaper? The Kentucky quintet have undergone a stylistic shift since their superb 2014 debut EP, but the devil-may-care, everything-louder-than-everything-else attitude remains. There’s no surer guarantee of a good time.

Bit by bit, the snot-nosed garage punk that dominated their first two releases has shifted to something bolder, brighter, rooted in an era when hooks were king. The many highlights on 2017’s The World’s Best American Band and 2019’s superb You Deserve Love recalled stadium-smashing 70s acts like Thin Lizzy and Cheap Trick in all the best ways.

White Reaper - Pages [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]

The early signs suggested Asking For A Ride would continue that progression towards hook-laden anthems with Tony Esposito and Hunter Thompson’s duelling guitar solos. Early singles ‘Pages’ and ‘Fog Machine’ had choruses that hit hard and made sure you stayed hit. But all it takes is three seconds of the title track to realise that White Reaper aren’t just aiming for big this time, they’re aiming for crushingly huge.

‘Asking For A Ride’ suggests that one or two things the band picked up from their 2021 cover of Metallica’s ‘Sad But True’ have stuck around. White Reaper have never sounded this heavy and they wear it well. The song so perfectly encapsulates thrash metal’s blurred lines with punk, it may as well come raging out of the speakers in a pair of white high-tops and a biker jacker. Eddie Munson would have loved it.

White Reaper - Fog Machine [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]

There’s barely time to breathe before ‘Bozo’ launches itself into the middle of the mosh pit and suddenly the headbangers are dancing. White Reaper can be big, they can be heavy as all hell, but those melodies and hooks are non-negotiable. To prove that point, along comes ‘Fog Machine’, which couldn’t be better named. It’s an anthem crying out for a stadium.

Asking For A Ride is without a doubt the best-sounding record that White Reaper have made. The polish and power of You Deserve Love is still evident, but there’s a rawness too that allows it to sit comfortably next to anything else they’ve done before. Reportedly the result of a difficult recording process – which saw the band part way with ill-suited producers and take over those duties themselves – it’s no surprise that it occasionally verges on introspection. There’s a sense of restlessness and burnout, even on the party-starting ‘Fog Machine’ which seems to lament the personal distances enforced on a hard-touring band, a ‘Beth’ for a new generation.

White Reaper - Pink Slip [OFFICIAL VISUALIZER]

‘Heaven Or Not’ takes things in a whole new direction, successfully dipping its toes into the pulsating synth pop pool. Retro flourishes abound elsewhere too, whether it’s the Tangerine Dream intro to ‘Getting Into Trouble W/The Boss’ or Ryan Hater’s keys, which are a whole mood in themselves, taking even the more straightforward rockers into territory that just doesn’t sound like anyone else.

After all, nobody else could sit as comfortably on a bill with The Killers and The 1975 as they can with Metallica or Militarie Gun. For some bands, comparisons just fall short. White Reaper sound like White Reaper and that sound is the sound of heavy ass guitar rock being exuberantly reborn.

Released: 27 Jan 2023
Label: Elektra
On Tour: TBC