Bristol’s own confusingly genred rock/metal band RXPTRS are putting out their debut album this week. Having caught them at Call of the Wild Festival the other week (read our full review of the weekend here) we couldn’t wait to hear it. And, we managed to get a little sneak preview of it a few days early so we could let y’all know what we thought. Let’s get on with it, shall we!
‘Burning Pages’ opens on a fantastic driving metal riff, starting heavy and quick. Simon Roach’s vocals come in over the top and immediately remind me of Daron Malakian (of System of a Down and Scars On Broadway fame) in both tone and the melodies used. It fits the riff perfectly and is immediately catchy.
The track opens up into a huge, even catchier chorus. It almost gives off Alter Bridge vibes now with the great harmonies and fun vocal runs. Oh, and the scream at the end is also fantastic, adding heaviness to the track and carrying on throughout the second verse. The battling between the scream and spoken word is an interesting dynamic and really fits the urgency and questioning of the lyrics. The band hit a pretty great bridge/breakdown part with some radio-effected spoken word far back in the mix, adding some fantastic depth. A hell of a way to open an album and a track that easily makes the playlist!
Onto one of the singles now, ‘Rock Bottom’. Starting on the awesome solo riff, it soon explodes into an almost Dillinger Escape Plan-like opening verse, complete with a great scream and some catchy vocals. It blasts through quickly before slowing down for another MASSIVE chorus. It already feels moot to mention how catchy it is, but damn this is definitely another earworm. The low spoken word vocals in the second verse were fun, giving off Mushroomhead vibes now. The band are so creative in blending so many different styles and influences together. They know exactly when to change things up to keep it interesting and keep the audience guessing. Nothing ever overstays its welcome. We get another awesome breakdown between the choruses and helps the second track in a row onto our playlist!
‘Dead Awake’ opens slower than the previous tracks, bursting almost straight into low, AIC-like vocals. The riff behind it is simple by massively effective, the vocals taking center stage with the different styles. It again explodes into heaviness, this time for the chorus, with a few great harsher vocals and some impressive soaring notes. The breakdown is pretty great, the lyrics being especially pertinent, and the dynamics of it building and dropping and building back up to the chorus are great. Another awesome track.
‘Demons In My Headphones’ feels like the most radio-friendly track so far, structurally, but then also goes into a little thrash bridge in the middle and we get the first guitar solo on the album. That part was awesome and the lyrics here are maybe my favourite on the album, addressing Simon’s past through a curious lens. However outside of that the track didn’t hook me in quite as much as the others.
The riffs in ‘Collapse’ are fantastic and once again I get Myles Kennedy/Alter Bridge vibes from the vocals in the chorus. It’s incredibly catchy and just a fantastic modern alt/hard rock track. The following track, single ‘Gutterflies’ also echoes those sentiments quite well. Awesome riffs, amazing lyrics and catchy, Alter Bridge meets SOAD vocals. One of these tracks is definitely making our playlist, but you’ll have to check it out to find out which one…
‘The Death Rattle’ opens with jazz, throwing off everything I previously expected by the already eclectic band. While heading back into rock soon after, it still stays pretty upbeat and bouncy. The vocal delivery reminded me of My Chemical Romance on The Black Parade, and given the lyrical content I guess they’re not too dissimilar. Also, the band accomplish something few actually do in metal, have a childrens choir and not sound cringy. Well done guys. It fits really well, and was called in by Simon perfectly in the lyrics. Another really strong track that is punk as fuck throughout, having an attitude and swagger that the other tracks haven’t possessed until now. It makes the playlist, easily!
Next up is the slower track on the album, ‘Cold Ground’. It’s a beautiful ballad filled with emotion. Simon’s vocals soar in the chorus, being maybe his best vocal performance on the album. We also get another great guitar solo, the feeling coming straight through the strings. It really has to be heard as my words aren’t going to do justice to this amazing track.
Latest single ‘The Frail’ gets things heavy again. It’s another good radio-style track and the dropdown in the middle was nice, adding some good emotional and musical depth to the track. The we reached the closing track, ‘Let Me Die How I Want’. Surprisingly it’s another ballad. However, while I usually dislike closing albums on a slower track, it fits well and makes complete sense here. Given the story the lyrics tell, this is the fantastic natural conclusion of the album. It doesn’t need to be huge and aggressive, the emotion is flooding out of this track from the very beginning. And the seven minutes of runtime means that it gets a bit proggy, having ONE HELL of a breakdown around the four-minute mark. An amazing way to close out a great album.
Overall: This was amazing. As a way of telling Simon’s story and viewpoint on life the lyrics are incredible. As a showcase of the talent and songwriting of the other band members, it’s phenominal. RXPTRS have done everything right here, putting out one of the best albums of the year. Check this out, no matter who you are. I cannot wait to see them blow up and see just how big they get, the sky is the limit.
The Score: 9/10