(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
For many of us that exist within the enlightened inner circle of humans that know who and what Lisboa, Portugal’s Dollar Llama are, Christmas came early this year.
I say that because one of the best damn gifts that anyone could want or ever hope for, a new album from Dollar Llama, did exactly that when it arrived via Raging Planet Records on December 2nd. It is the band’s third official full-length studio record and it is oh-so appropriately titled “Juggernaut“.
If you know anything about Tiago Simões (Vocals), José Dinis (Bass), Hugo Vieira (Guitar), Chikko Marques (Guitar), and Pedro Cardoso (Drums), the collective known as Dollar Llama, it’s the following things: 1. Dollar Llama are one of the most incredible bands currently active on this planet Earth, and 2. Somehow a lot of people are, to their own loss, still missing the validity of the afore-stated #1.
People that call themselves fans or aficionados of everything from southern metal to heavy rock, sludge, groove metal and all points in-between, need to get hip to Dollar Llama. Hell, begin right here with “Juggernaut“, or 2015’s magnificent Grand Union, 2009’s Under The Hurricane or even their 2006 EP Revolution F.M.
Speaking of beginning, this latest Portuguese salvo of exponentially energetic rock and roll unfurls with the subtle starter, “SemiGod“. It simmers with swaggered grooves aplenty right off the line, ones firmly anchored into place with riveting rhythms and pure badassery. The band has always delivered the most genuine take on U.S. Southern heaviness ala Corrosion Of Conformity, Floodgate or Hell Camino, and this is proof positive.
Not JUST this number alone of course, others like the nitro-charged “Knucklehead“, blistering “Bocanegra” or juiced-up title cut, “Juggernaut“, transmit those lower, lower 48’s delta vibes. I find it uncanny how Dollar Llama channel their shared musical influences into quite an Americana-like essence in their overall sound.
That said, and now set aside, there is an obvious evolution in their music taking place right within our ears. They are clearly injecting more melody into other compositions, ones such as “Misery” and the intensive declaration, “Louder“. The latter song is a stellar stand out here, with Simões’ wrenching, emotionally decrying vocals of “Actions speak louder than words...” resonating. All while an undeniably doom undertone and some periodic, piercing guitar licks make it one of this record’s more unforgettable tracks.
Thus we segue now into the outright furiously memorable numbers of brashly metallic material. Weaponized workings like “Nails“, “Stagefires” and “Youth Riot” are audible blows that drive themselves into your skull with an unrelenting hammering process. Pounding, pulsing and pummeling away at you, strike after strike with grinding modern metal severity. The fact that the album is titled “Juggernaut” is not just some fluke, you know?
No, the title itself, just like the band Dollar Llama themselves, are an all-encompassing powerhouse of genre-mashing. The implications of both, band and “Juggernaut“, simultaneously relate the matter-of-fact absolute that this overpowering behemoth of heavy music has arrived. It is here, like an unstoppable object they are devoted and they are determined… and they SHALL be heard!