Derby’s own We Are Sovereign have been making waves the last couple of years or so. After releasing their debut single just a couple of years ago, they have already started to garner a fair bit of a buzz and even been played on Kerrang! I’d been familiar with the band for a while but got their debut album sent over to me by the guy who produced it (and fellow Wolf) Ben Gaines. So, I couldn’t wait to check it out!
After a brief, heavy, synth-led intro that perfectly sets up what the band are about, we launch into the first track, ‘Don’t You Dare Quit’. It opens really interesting, with some clean vocals and the same sort of guitar and synth from the intro. It feels like it’s building to something, especially as the harsh vocals come in in a call-and-response style. Honestly, it does, too. When it drops into the more open, screamed verse, damn, it’s amazing. And that low scream in the middle, *chef’s kiss*. The chorus is catchy, especially the cleans, and is begging to be performed on a big stage.
Also, given the heaviness of the track, it’s a surprisingly positive and uplifting song, from a lyrical standpoint. And somehow the track conveys that feeling in the chorus despite the heaviness. It’s really interesting! The voiceover in the bridge was also a really interesting addition, clearly poking fun at those that try to put the band down. The outro goes HARD too, in all the best ways. It’s definitely the right choice to open the album with, and is a great way to introduce people to the band!
The opening minute or so of ‘Nostalgia’ feels like another interlude type track. The clean vocals sound awesome backed by the electric drums and synth stuff. However, the radio-like spoken stuff again takes centre stage. It reminds me of a mixture of Kim Dracula and early 2000s hip-hop like Eminem. It’s a really interesting choice and means that when the heaviness suddenly explodes in it catches me completely off guard.
Still, the harsh vocals and awesome guitaring make for an amazing verse. Plus it means that when the clean vocals come back in in the same feel as the intro, it draws everything together perfectly. I can’t get enough of the duelling vocals, both sounding so good contrasting to each other. The male cleans honestly remind me of Howard Jones, they’re that good! It’s another great track!
More radio/TV stuff opens ‘These 4 Walls’, another incredibly emotional track and a heavy subject matter. The slower, clean open carries that emotion perfectly, too. Sure, there are harsh screams too, but it compliments everything and is more backing than the main focus this time. Even when it takes centre stage for the second verse, it fits perfectly with the sombre tone. It makes it feel more like a, ambient black metal track, which it may be would be without the cleaner, poppier vocals too. It’s somehow the band’s ballad of the album, and it’s amazing. A highlight for sure, and easily makes our playlist!
Follow-up ‘This Farewell is our Fate’ opens similarly to the previous track. Dare I say, it reminds me a tad of Hinder. Sorry, We Are Sovereign! It kicks into a higher pretty quickly with some harsh vocals interspersed with the cleans and some great playing from the drums, guitar and bass. The duelling vocals, especially with the technical riffing, give off BIG metalcore vibes in the best ways. I again hear a lot of Killswitch Engage influence. The dichotomy of the vocals is incredible, while the ‘Woh’s in the chorus make this an instant anthem. And that low scream to bring in the outro, damn. These guys are so good at getting heavy when they want to. Heck, the whole outro is post-hardcore perfection. A second track in a row that gets playlisted!
After another synth-heavy interlude track, the band launch into a redo of their debut single, ‘Bridges Burnt Lessons Learnt’. However, this time, it features the mighty Ryan Tuck O’Leary of Fit For a King. It’s a massive get for a debut album, and especially for a Derby band! I also love that the spoken word stuff fits so much more in the context of the album. It makes everything feel like a continuous piece, which I always love.
Ryan adds so much to the track, too. It sounds amazing together with the harsher stuff. It’s also the closest thing to a ‘radio’ song structure on the album, which I liked a lot. It’s always nice, as out there as I love bands getting, to have the benchmark track too. The breakdown is filthy in the best ways and the chanting/gang vocalled bridge with the song title is perfect for a live setting! What an amazing track, and it was the perfect lead single a couple of years ago. Another to make the playlist, for sure!
The contrast of beautiful, simple piano and harsh AF screaming to open ‘Time Can be So Short’ is fascinating. It fits the mood and theme of the track infinitely perfectly, though. However, the cleans and slow pace somehow make it another ballad. Somehow (and he’d kill me if I didn’t mention it!) this is the main track where the production stands out to me. The mixing is incredible, adding even more to an already dynamic, huge track. Well in, Ben Gaines! I love the instrumentation slowly dropping out through the final chorus too, leaving just the powerful, emotional vocals to close it out.
Closing track/interlude ‘OVERCOME’ is a fitting end to the journey. It’s slow, ethereal and somehow still emotional. The message is perfect and fits in perfectly with the other tracks, and the almost minute of dead air at the end is a stroke of genius. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say! But yeah, a fitting end to the album!
Overall: I’ve listened to this three times now while doing this review, and it’s grown on me more and more with each listen. While I was initially unsure when checking out the first couple of tracks, the band took me on an emotional rollercoster of a journey and didn’t let go until the end each time. It’s an experience of an album, and honestly you come out feeling different than you did when you went in. It takes something truly special to effect someone like that, and this is very much that. It’s not 100% my taste in music, but I can’t help but love this for the creativity, emotion and sheer balls the band show throughout. Check this out from front to back, I promise you it’s worth it. There are some highlight tracks for sure, but the album is clearly meant to be consumed in its entirety.
The score: 9/10