Tonk - Ruby Voodoo (Own Label/MelodicRock Records)

Canberra's not just about politicians spilling things, you know...
Release Date: 
8 Mar 2015 - 11:30pm

Canberran hard rockers Tonk know a thing or two about riffs. They also know more than a little about stick-in-your-ears-for-days melodies and hooks; The upshot of this pleasing conjugation of knowledges is Ruby Voodoo, the band’s second release, a release that is an utter delight to listen to.

There’s nothing revelatory about Tonk. The band produces eminently solid, hard-hitting heavy rock in the vein of compadres such as The Screaming Jets, Aussie hard rock instantly recognisable but, gratifyingly, light years ahead of the lumpen oaf rock purveyed by many of their more revered countrymen, whose names I shall not give the oxygen of publicity here...

The key here is soul; This isn’t music made to order by trend-obsessed automatons for brain dead consumer kicks – it’s living, breathing, screaming heavy metal rock n’roll dripping with sass n’attitide for sure, but most importantly running rivers of sincerity from every pore. Tonk make this music because they love it and, by extension, if you love it too then they make this music for you.

Ruby Voodoo comprises eleven tracks, recorded in Byron Bay by legendary knob twiddler Nick Didia (Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine et al) on the same mixing console that birthed many of the biggest hits to issue forth from Australia in the eighties, and you can almost feel that direct line to greatness pulsing through every utterance the record belches forth. Many bands in Tonk’s position face an agonising choice when divvying up where the money is spent when the time comes to record an album, but the extra coin shovelled in Mr Didia’s direction was, I can reveal, money well spent as the aural soundscape presented on Ruby Voodoo is quite literally sounding to these ears at least like the work of a man with the midas touch – Tonk have never sounded this HUGE before. 

Of course, you want some evidence to back up all this blathering, don’t you? Well, Final track Over the Edge mixes Zeppelin riffage and off-kilter Van Halen melodies but actually sounds like neither of those two bands thanks to the heart on sleeve vocalising of lead throat Jinks, whilst at the other end of the album opening track Pleasure and Pain is a bobbing, weaving leviathan of a track, propelled by the serpentine axework of guitarists Steve and Ben whose stop-start six string syncopation steams out of the speakers in screamingly sensational style, threatening to level anything in it’s way through sheer weight of tsunamiesque riff hysteria;  in between these two audial landmarks you’ll find nine other tracks utterly worthy of your attention, each one marshalled by the rock solid engine room of Matt [drums] and bassist Mikey, and each one possessing enough hooks, soloing and general brilliance to last most bands labouring in this field a lifetime – don’t ask me to pick out a favourite because it’s too damn hard for a mere human brain such as mine to sift through the gold on offer. Suffice to say that fans of eighties-flavoured hard rock shot through with a serious nineties sensibility will gobble up everything Tonk has to offer on Ruby Voodoo – but why stop there? Honestly, if you’ve any interest in hard driving, well played rock n’roll from any era – you need this album.