Thorbjørn Risager and the Black Tornado: Too Many Roads Review

When I originally read the name Thorbjørn Risager and the Black Tornado, I am not going to lie, I instantly thought of down tuned guitars and crushing metallic technicality.  Musical profiling aside, it’s no stretch to say I was surprised by the sound coming out of my speakers. Risager has been a lifelong student of the blues, and it shows. He has picked his fellow musicians with a discerning ear and it has paid off. Even more impressive is that they’ve had only two personnel changes in the 10+ years they’ve been a band. You build a certain chemistry playing 100+ gigs every year for all that time, and on their newest release, Too Many Roads, it shines through.

The album starts off with the blues-y thump of “If You Wanna Leave” before sliding into the title track “Too Many Roads,” a zeppelin-esque folk blues-bruiser that has Risager growling about the difficult choices one is forced to make in the modern world. The song builds with a quiet strength that adds mystery and weight to the subject matter, behind an acoustic guitar riff Clapton would be proud of. “China Gate” is a haunting Nat King Cole cover and it keeps the momentum going in similar fashion, but with a dark Scandinavian twist. It really captures the band at their best, showcasing their deep affection and admiration for American Jazz and Blues, while at the same time staying true to their Scandinavian roots. “Paradise” is a funky tune with a slinky bass line and the occasional big band horn blast. “Drowning” is another twist on old New Orleans Jazz, with jabs of creepy carnival organ thrown into to keep you on your toes. “Through the Tears” sounds like B.B. King stepping in on a session with Otis Redding. It’s clear that the fellas that make up the Black Tornado have spent more than some time listening to the Stax classics. “Long Forgotten Track” is a track of note, if only for its striking similarity to the Clutch song “The Regulator,” it’s pretty eerie just how much Thorbjørn Risager sounds like Neil Fallon here. Of course where Clutch builds to an epic descending riff, Risager and company keep it calm and collected until the bitter end. “Play On” is the closing track on the album and it takes off with a boogie piano ferver that would make Jerry Lee Lewis jealous. It’s an ode to, as the band themselves say, “How awesome it is to play the blues when you love the blues.” It’s a fitting closer and sends the listener off with the tight musicianship and crisp sound that is prevalent throughout the entire album.

Make no mistake about it, Thorbjørn Risager is a man, his voice is thick and gnarly, like a Danish Billy Gibbons with a wider range. It’s always inspiring to hear a band that plays tribute to the greats, without directly ripping them off, taking it in their own direction. This is where I believe Thorbjørn Risager and the Black Tornado separate themselves from the pack and show the most promise. If you’re looking for a new twist on old classics, I highly recommend Too Many Roads.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Too Many Roads
– China Gate
– Paradise
– Long Forgotten Track

The Big Hit

– China Gate

Review by Tripp Shumake

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

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