Listening to rock-centric radio nowadays often provokes delight and dismay in equal measure. The delight occurs mainly after the discovery or re-discovery of a golden nugget of purest rock from bygone days (Blue Oyster Cult, AC/DC and what not) nestling amongst the airwaves. The dismay occurs usually when the new stuff gets played. Cliched lyrics, overwrought vocals (everybody now seems to sound like that annoying lion-bloke from Nickelback) and band names that would have sounded jokey twenty years ago. Except it’s not a joke.
Dorja are a bit of a surprise then. Their debut EP ‘Target Practice’ avoids all of that slavish devotion to the old guard and instead asserts the bands distinctive sound. It’s the strong musical personalities within Dorja that allow them to reference the best bits of ‘classic rock’ in a way that feels like forward momentum rather than a call back.
Opening rocker ‘Fire’ introduces Aiym Almas’ bluesy Jekyll and Hyde voice – cut glass at one moment and rusty nails the next and seamlessly too. The resonance of her vocals is similar in effect to, say, Robin Zander of Cheap Trick but characteristically she’s out there on her own. ‘Not In Your Shadow’ and ‘Reaching Out’ both highlight a promising guitar partnership in Rosie Botterill and Holly Henderson, their guitar lines weaving intuitively and cutting away from each other in an intriguing manner that will make budding guitarist-listeners want to work out who is playing what.
The through-line for all four songs are bassist Becky Baldwin and drummer Anna Mylee, marshalling the band on ‘Reaching Out’ and final track ‘Target Practice’ with a thunderous low-slung groove on the former and a laser precision on the latter. As a group, Dorja have a knack for audibly building tension and gaining momentum as the songs progress – the last half of ‘Reaching Out’ excites with a perilous vocal climb that tumbles into a guitar riff that stomps like iron clodhoppers.
This is the first really convincing hard rock act I’ve heard in a while and I would recommend it to people who have lost faith in the genre.