Riff starts, drums & bass kick in then vocals and you off on a journey. While this might not sound like new ground for Superheist songwriter, founder and guitarist Richie “DW” Norton, his new solo project Rifleman is definitely a new breath from his lungs and another string or two in his rather laden bow. On this his first solo effort Silver & Gold, we are introduced to a different side of Norton yet the riffs and hooks still remain. He has managed to deliver an album full of well crafted rock songs of varied moods as you weave through what feels like a musical journey in a more personal side of Norton. Norton also puts on his producer hat and is an ARIA nominated producer and engineer in his own right producing some of Australia’s best heavy and hardcore bands including Alchemist, Toe To Toe, Mindsnare, Superheist, Day Of Contempt and many more. Silver & Gold is everything you want in a rock record, well written, gets your head nodding, fists pumping and singing along.
It features 16 tracks, which may scare some people but there is enough colour and emotional turns to not feel bloated. The album begins with the opener ‘Keep The Story Alive’. Its chugging rock and big choruses hits the ground running and is followed by ‘Zombie With Vital Signs’ which is a slow burning rock track with cruising melodies.
‘Blood, Ash, Hopelessness’ leads us straight back to a stadium-rock filled with a feeling of hope before ‘Satellite’ offers a mid-tempo, more commercial rock sound.
‘October Sun’ is a hooky rock anthem akin US rockers Switchfoot and this doesn’t stop with ‘The Last Love Song’ which makes you throw your fists in the air with it’s hooky chorus before we are given Norton’s take on INXS classic ‘Don’t Change’ which does justice to the original and has plenty of energy.
‘Flesh and Bone is a building anthem where you’ll want to bring out the lighters and feels like you’re in a packed venue somewhere singing along. The following track ‘Liar On The Radio’ provides a darker, moodier twist and turn for the album before it goes into a real highlight of the album ‘The Seven Summits’ which provides us with a guest vocal by London Gabraelle and those big Norton choruses.
‘Surrender’ then offers a kind of heavy The Cure-type vibe which really complements Norton’s gritty vocals and then ‘Any Given Day’ is a mid-tempo rock ballad (if you will) which offers us another look into what makes Norton tick.
‘Those Southern Lights’ builds into another big anthemic number and ‘Shepherds’ brings energy and a big chorus that could sit along any Superheist track before the album winds down with the closer ‘Burn’ a Final, moody instrumental piece allowing you to just take a step back and take it all in.
Overall, the Rifleman project has started with a bang and delivered an album which should appeal to most rock fans as well as provide those who have followed Norton to another side of him.
Silver & Gold will be out on Friday 27 October. You can stream the album HERE.