Ryder - Don't Think Twice

Ryder is a Queens, NY based Hard Rock quartet. Formed in 2016, they have a sound meant to bring Classic Rock back into the conversation. There has been a major revival of that in the last decade, and Ryder is part of the reason why. They’ve built a fan base nationwide by playing coast to coast and hitting festivals, including Rocklahoma. Signed to UK-based Bad Monkey Records, they’re also garnering international acclaim. The time is right for a new sound to hit the airwaves and bring the love of Arena Rock back to mind.


Band Members:

  • James Ryder – Vocals/Guitars
  • Andrew Bloch – Guitars
  • Erik Unkrich – Bass
  • Billy Smith – Drums

July 8, 2022, via Bad Monkey Records


  1. Sacrificed In Vain
  2. Unbound
  3. Last Ride
  4. Ash And Snow

This is a killer Hard Rock record from the get-go. “Sacrificed In Vain” opens with a heavy, bluesy riff and a bombastic rhythm. The vocals are a bit dirty and gritty, giving the voice a lot of texture and blending it into the guitar beautifully. The chugging rhythm is well done, moderately paced, and has excellent tonal quality. The tones leading into the solo fit the overall vibe of the song, and the speed of it is perfect, not too fast, not too slow.

“Unbound” has a touch of Sludge to it. The opening riff almost oozes out of the speakers. The drums shift from full to muted and back, depending on where they are in the song. The bass and guitar are in perfect time with each other, creating a wave of sound that just washes over you. The solo is again melodic and fits the tone of the song well. James has a really powerful voice and uses it to maximum effect. The backing vocals at the end really add a kick to the vocals.

The slower version of Ryder is heard on “Last Ride.” This song is definitely one to pay attention to. The build from verse to chorus, the bridge with the guitar solo, all of it is artfully done. The writing and performance of this song are beautifully executed. Adding in spoken word puts another wrinkle into the composition, showing Ryder knows how to put a song with multiple elements together. The heavy cymbal crashed, and the slow counts on the high hat all harken back to some of the best Classic Rock songs of yesteryear, bringing awesome memories back to mind.

“Ash And Snow” is a song with a killer groove. Again, the vibe is Classic Rock, feeling like a bit of history with modern production. The backing vocals on this one are excellent, harmonizing beautifully with each other and the lead voice. The bass lead that ushers in the guitar solo are a nice touch, giving the rhythm section some love.

Ryder definitely feels like an old soul in a modern world. They don’t have a sound like any of the major 70s bands, but they have the feel. Some bands that try the throwback sound get compared, justly or not, to some of their influences. Kingdom Come in the late 80s and Greta Van Fleet more recently are perfect examples, but Ryder avoids that by taking a different route. Instead of highlighting one significant influence, they pay homage to them all without coming across as a copy or tribute band. They have an entirely original take on the Classic Rock sound, making them stand out among their peers.

MZ Ratings:

  • Musicianship
    • Guitars – 9
    • Rhythms – 9
    • Vocals – 9
  • Songwriting – 8
  • Production – 8
  • Overall – 8.60