At the start I didn't want to like Combat Deluxe, but their debut release True Religion eventually grew on me. Combat Deluxe is a five-piece rock band from Sweden with some great talent and gritty ambition. True Religion is a full throttle DIY project: recorded in their own studio and, passing over some label initiatives, released on their on label, Fishfarm Records. The former accounts for the rough and raw, yet quite professional, sound. The latter accounts for their fierce independent spirit. Both are enough to give any young band inspiration for their own future.
Musically, True Religion is rough and tumble hard rock: sometimes with a modern motif (True Religion), sometimes with a metal headbangers edge (Harley Drive, Narrow Outlook), but always with streetwise and anxious delivery. You can hear fundamental rock, some blues, and modern alt rock in their music. You might even find a near Southern rock motif, but heavier with less twang, on Had a Drink with Lucifer. Combat Deluxe can also be clever as on Dirty Saviours of Manly Rock and Roll; tongue-in-cheek sarcasm or not, the song is disarmingly persuasive. However, Combat Deluxe is best when they hit a pure rock groove as on The Truth You Could Not Handle and best track, Talk Dirty.
Beyond these mentions, True Religion features some other notable qualities. One is the fine musicianship, especially from the bass side, and that gritty production. Second is the barbed wire and whiskey vocals of Fredrik Risbo, who is destined to be one of the those few rock vocalists with a distinctive character.
While there's much to enjoy on True Religion, there's lots to digest as well, and some of it isn't always that acoustically palatable. Passing on True Religion, Emotions, or Do You will not diminish your listening experience; however, they just didn't 'pop' for me like some of the others (especially Talk Dirty). Nevertheless, on the whole, with 13 songs, True Religion is an impressive, highly unexpected, and pleasing debut from Combat Deluxe.
On the whole, with 13 songs, True Religion is an impressive, highly unexpected, and pleasing debut from Combat Deluxe.
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