Tag Archives: alternative music

The Collab Project: How do the Collaborations Help or Hinder Written by Wolves?

Written by Wolves is a rock quintet from all the way in Auckland. Having an EP and their 2019 album ‘Secrets’ to their name, they are becoming one of New Zealand’s premier rock acts pretty quickly. The band sent us over their latest EP, ‘The Collab Project’, and it sounds so awesome that we couldn’t not review it! This is that review!

Oh, and just in case you couldn’t tell, this EP features songs with people in other bands and projects, hence the ‘collab’ title. Just wanted to say it now so I didn’t keep repeating myself later on!

‘Better Luck Next Time’ features Trenton Woodley of Hands Like Houses. It opens on an almost gospel choir-like build and swell of vocals and harmonies, it all sounding awesome. It just adds even more to the HEAVY riff that comes in a few seconds later, blasting it all away quickly. It drops down a little into a pretty great riff as the vocals come in, powerful and pop-punky, adding a lot to the already great sound. The chorus is massive and open, sounding both heavy and catchy at the same time, the perfect mix. More awesome harmonies ring through it too, always a highlight of any song they are in for me. The chorus is growing on me more and more with each listen, it is damn catchy. It drops down low for a second after the second chorus before the choir intro is brought back but this time over the top of huge drums and distorted guitar chords, sounding even better. I think I’ve finally worked out what it reminds me of: if Panic! At the Disco did a metal song. And I am all down, that was awesome! Couldn’t quite tell where Trenton was, but I don’t mind, it sounded awesome. Playlisted!

‘Secrets’ features the always awesome P.O.D vocalist, Sonny Sandoval. It sounds a little more hip-hop inspired than the previous song, not surprising given Sonny’s involvement. It still has a slight gospel feel, with the stop and clap formula this time instead of the vocals, but it adds a nice dynamic behind the vocals. Some lighter, vocals come in for what I understand is the steady, quiet voice, the pre building pretty well into a rather disappointingly stripped-back chorus. The riff is good, but pretty far back in the mix and doesn’t feel anywhere near as heavy as that build-up felt like it warranted. It reminds me a lot of Papa Roach’s latest single, a good riff wasted by it not getting heavy enough. I have to say though, they make up for it with a HUGE second chorus, heavy and loud and perfect, almost like they knew what they were doing or something… it was really good! The harsher vocals fit the change of tone perfectly and had me banging my head and scrunching my face up. It, unfortunately, teases a build for the final chorus but never quite pays off. Even still though, it’s one hell of a song!

‘Our Stories’ is a really interesting piece of work; over 11 minutes of people telling stories about their experiences over the phone. I honestly don’t know what to say about it other than calling it incredibly emotional. I don’t feel comfortable saying much more about this or giving it much analysis, but it’s an incredible eye-opener and a fantastic opener to the following track if you think you can handle it.

‘Lucky Stars’ is made so much more emotional by the previous track; a slow opener with a similar ethereal background sound behind some profound lyrics sounds great. ‘You shouldn’t need a song to save your life, the world should care enough for you to feel like you belong’ is a fantastic sentiment. The male and female vocals (from Sydney Rae White) contrast beautifully with each other, both giving off their own sound and emotion, even when harmonising with each other. This was a fantastically beautiful track and a real highlight of the album.

To finish the tale of the middle songs of the EP, ‘Hope’ is a track similar to ‘Our Stories’. However, it is from people who have come out the other side of their tough times and are recovering. It completes the story of the three tracks so perfectly and flows with just as much emotion as the previous two, even more so as it draws the narratives to a close. It’s one of the most fantastic things I’ve heard from a modern band, and it added to the beauty of it all. Even if you feel you cannot stomach the first track, tough it out and listen to this nearly 25-minute epic in its entirety. It will make you cry and you will not regret it.

As if fitting in with the emotion of the journey I have just been on, ‘Help me Through the Night’ not only fits the emotion and feel of the previous stuff perfectly but also feels like the Shinedown-esque ballad of the EP. The lyrics fit perfectly and sound awesome over the top of the more electronic-based instrumentation than the straight-up rock stuff from the opening two tracks. The chorus is the biggest and catchiest on the album too, utterly fantastic and one of my favourite choruses I’ve heard recently. Kellin Quinn’s vocals work well through the second verse (especially since they had a woman guest vocal on the last one…) adding a good dynamic again. We get a cool bridge out of the second chorus before it drops down into a stripped-back chorus, building up perfectly into a huge final one, harmonies between the two vocalists and all! Easily playlisted, an awesome song!

And with that, we reach the final track on the EP, ‘Forever Always’. It opens on some choir-style vocals again before dropping out into just the lead vocal, sounding beautiful over the simple piano. It again builds slowly and perfectly; however, they tease it a little longer, having an equally quiet first chorus. The second vocals come in for the second verse, again the harmonies between the two sounding fantastic during the second half in the build-up. We STILL get a lower chorus though, unfortunately. We finally get the huge chorus for the final one after a very quiet bridge, and it was exactly what I was waiting for. Huge guitar chords and drums behind the two duelling vocals gives such an epic feel to it all, it’s really great. It’s a long chorus before a quiet outro takes us home, but it all worked so well together. A fantastic way to close out a fantastic EP.

Overall: I went into this band completely blind and I was not at all disappointed, this was amazing from start to finish. They captured so much emotion from the third track onwards that carried through perfectly to the end and is honestly one of the most profound pieces of music I’ve heard in a while. I’ll definitely be listening to it again, and I urge any of you to too, whether you are a fan of the genre or not!

Score: 9/10

Rockin’ The Bowl: The Big Bad Review – Day 3

And here we are, the last day of what has turned out to be an incredible festival.

Kicking things off was the punk-rock awesomeness of Dukes of Bordello. Any band that is this punk but also has a double bass instead of a regular one automatically goes up in my books, as well as get’s at least 124 more punk-points. I’ve seen them across the UK at a number of different festivals before and they have always been good, and there was no exception here! Massive amounts of fun and a great way to blow away the cobwebs for the final day!

Next up was a run of a number of bands with a similar sound and style. Black Whiskey, Sons of Liberty and Bootyard Bandits are all heavily influenced by a blues/country rock style, although they adapt it in very different ways. The first two are straight forward rock/blues while the latter takes a more comical/parody route. All three bands were tight and easily entertained the crowd. You can catch them on a similar circuit from time to time so keep an eye out for their names in future festival lineups.

Collateral took to the stage after them, bringing their own style of glam/AOR laced hard rock. Always a fantastic live band, it seems like Rockin’ the Bowl was no exception as they arguably had one of the loudest receptions of the weekend!

Melodic hard rock band The Wicked Jackals then brought their style of energy, passion and stage presence to the Bowl. Never ones to be shown up, they had the crowd in the palm of their hands throughout and put on one hell of a show. The same could apparently be said for our good friends over in Hollowstar who gave one of their best performances to date. They are the perfect balance of both a professional band and genuine artists who obviously love what they do.

Then we reached the headliner of the Sunday and by far the best stage-show of the weekend, Massive Wagons. We had been forewarned about the sheer amount of pyro and confetti they were bringing, but it still didn’t prepare me for the sheer madness I witnessed. Fire, explosions and a tonne of confetti, this was a headlining set if I’ve ever seen one! It of course helps that the band also sounded on point, delivering a performance to match the show. A band that have been on top form for a while now, I can see them becoming one of the big bands of the future in only a few years.

That’s it for Overtone’s big bad review of Rockin’ The Bowl 2021. After over a year off, this was exactly the kind of festival that the rock scene needed right now and it was executed to perfection. With next years line-up already looking stacked, expect to see a similar review this time next year!

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Rockin’ The Bowl: The Big Bad Review – Day 2

Starting off bright and early at around 11:30am (after a slight delay), Lowdrive took to the stage. Bringing what I felt like was a great stoner/doom vibe reminiscent of the likes of The Sword or Down, the band did a great job of blowing away the last of my grogginess and setting me up well for the rest of the day! I feel like everyone felt the same as the crowd responded better than they did to the first band the day before. They were still a tad quiet though, making me feel like if the band were put in front of a crowd that knew their stuff it’d really be something special!

The second stage was open today too and the festival did a great job of alternating between the two stages, ensuring no clashes and making sure there was always music on throughout the day.

The first band to grace this stage were Zero Point Zero, a metalcore band from our neck of the woods, Derby/Notts. The frontman had a fantastic scream, but unfortunately his cleans were a tiny bit weak – it may have just been nerves or time away from playing live or the questionably VERY loud mix. The rest of the band were good, playing a good mix of clean, slower stuff and great heavy riffs. The least polished band so far but that was expected, being on the second stage.

Next up on the mainstage was the all-female band Joanovarc. Considering it was their first time performing with their brand new singer, Hazel, I think they absolutely smashed it! Like, so much so that they were one of the highlights of the weekend! All four women were fantastic at their given job and all had a natural chemistry with each other on stage. These girls have a BIG future under this line-up and I cannot wait to see what they do next.

Back over to the second stage we head afterwards for a band called Firegarden. There was a major emphasis on the instrumentation, being a lot more of that than vocals. It was fine because all of them were fantastic at their given instrument. The crowd clearly loved it too as the tent was pretty packed out from start to finish.

Welsh hard-rock band Florence Black were up next! Given how they were building up to the release of their debut album this coming Friday, they did a fantastic job adding hype! The band get such an amazing, HUGE sound out of just the three of them, and they had the kind of style and stage-presence that a band ten years their senior may not even have. Another very polished band yet, just like City Kids, they have an edge of grit and improvisation to them – making it all the more enjoyable. And any band that covers Budgie is a win for me!

Unfortunately we missed the following second stage band as we had interviews, but managed to catch Empyre afterwards. They were good, if a little slow. I spent the entire set waiting for a big drop, for the band to get a little heavier or faster, but it didn’t come. There were a couple of parts that sounded a little like Tool, but it never quite hit the same heights. They were all still fantastic musicians, though, and the vocals were a particular highlight.

Shooting back across to the second stage we got to catch most of the awesome A Joker Among Thieves. They were another band that pulled and maintained a pretty decent crowd throughout their set, and for very good reason, they were great! They had a real great, genuine energy about them and seemed genuinely thankful to be there. Their slow song around the middle of the set was awesome too.

Hell’s Addiction were another fun, enjoyable and pretty tight band. They were on the same sort of level as City Kids in that they felt like the first band of the day people had gone there to see. Shoutout to the guitarist’s soloing.

Next up were a personal favourite band of mine, Bad Touch. I’ve known the guys for years and it’s so amazing to see them go from playing tiny pub venues in front of a limited audience to being a lot of people’s highlight of the weekend. It’s down to earth blues/country rock, no bells and whistles, just five guys giving it their all to play enjoyable songs and give the crowd the best time they can. Stevie is one of the most charismatic frontmen I’ve ever seen and he had the audience in the palm of his hand throughout. What other band could play a badass Alanis Moressette cover that weekend and get away with it? And not to mention 99% being a crowd favourite. A cracking set!

Gin Annie were another enjoyable band just like Hell’s Addiction that were all extremely talented and owned the stage with their polish and professionalism… but it did feel a little too much at times. There is a pretty fine line between being well put together and being TOO choreographed and rehearsed, and I felt like the band landed on the wrong side of that line from time to time. There is a grit and realism that I feel must exist in rock music, especially when it’s underground like this, and taking that away makes it feel much more corporate, something that no one wants from their rock music. Still, they were a good, enjoyable band none the less!

Finally, we reached the headliner of the evening, the almighty Doro. The former Warlock frontwoman blasted through a set full of classics and hits, both from her old band and her solo career, having the crowd in the palm of her hand the entire time. It was just an hour or so of classic metal goodness, even complete with a separate drum solo! All the band members were fantastic and she’s still such a charismatic frontwoman that it really helped carry the performance. A great way to close the night!

V: Will Halflives continue to build their momentum with their latest EP?

Parisian alt-rock band Halflives have been building up quite the momentum and steam in their short time active. Having released their debut album ‘Empty Rooms’ back in 2017, they have followed it up with a handful of singles and two EPs, ‘Resilience’ and ‘V’. It is this second EP, released earlier this year, that I’m checking out today. Having found them through a sponsored social media post and having only heard the one song, safe to say I’m pretty excited for this one!

Opener ‘Vibe’ fades in with a great guitar riff before Linda Battilani’s powerful vocals come in over the top with a catchy melody. It’s straight to the point and a great way to open an EP. It opens out into the whole band making the riff sound MASSIVE before dropping back out again quickly for the verse. The pre is another catchy vocal line that could be easily chanted back by a live crowd before the huge chorus comes back in to add to the hook. It’s pop-rock at its finest and although I for some reason expected it to be a tad heavier, I’m fully down with this. The chorus is so damn catchy it’s going to be stuck in my head for days. It’s short and sweet too, clocking in at under two and a half minutes and finishing not long after the second chorus. Awesome and easily playlisted!

‘Victim’ opens straight into another fantastic vocal line from Linda, this time backed by a simple piano note repeated before it heads into a more traditional pop-rock verse. Atmospheric sounds over the top of the simple drumbeat all perfectly back the vocals, building into another massive, awesome chorus. It’s fairly steady-paced, profanity led and the same vocal line that opened the song, but performed with the rest of the band filling out the sound makes it so much bigger and catchier. We get a stripped-back bridge part after the second chorus, it briefly building back up into a final chorus. I have to admit it did get a little repetitive towards the end, the chorus lines were repeated a hell of a lot throughout the fairly short song, but it’s definitely one way to write an earworm of a song. Another good track!

‘Valkyrie’ is another track similar to the previous that opens on Linda’s awesome vocals, and at least this time it isn’t the chorus opening things up! The song is more on the pop side of their work as opposed to the rock, as even the first chorus is relatively stripped back, featuring no hint of distorted guitars or heavy drums. We do get a fairly heavy riff coming out of it, some electronic sounds reminiscent of Linkin Park or Bring Me The Horizon sounding over the top. It, unfortunately, drops back down again for the second verse and chorus, but it is all still so damn catchy that it’s hard not to love it. The heavier instrumentation comes back in for longer after the second verse and the vocals come in over the top, sounding the best of the chorus lyrics so far, in my opinion. It then drops back down, building up through another quieter chorus into the heaviest part of the EP so far, a huge almost breakdown riff to quickly close out the track.

The song that I had heard previously as it is their biggest, ‘Villain’, is next. It opens on a fantastic riff, almost grungy in its attitude and grit. We get the vocal hook of the song at the end of it, transitioning perfectly into a simple, steady verse. It builds perfectly into a plodding, brooding, pretty heavy chorus. The instrumentation is simple behind the singular repeated line of vocals, but damn if the electronic sounds again add so much depth and energy to the track that it’s impossible to dislike. The way the guitars take on the vocal melody after the second chorus was awesome too, making it somehow even catchier. A fantastic bridge really shows off Linda’s range, her high vocals sounding just as good as her usual lower range. A final chorus finishes a fantastic song, and another that easily makes the playlist!

‘V (Psycho)’ opens the heaviest of the bunch, a great opening riff that unfortunately drops out a little too soon into an at this point predictable verse. Despite the opening riff, it is also possibly the lightest song on the EP, it not picking up the heaviness again until the final chorus, and even then it’s just adding distorted chords behind it. It was still a damn enjoyable song and one that I will probably find myself listening to again, I just feel like they never quite hit the epic highs they could have by going all out on one or two of the riffs.

Overall: This was an enjoyable EP! It was something different as outside of the likes of Dorothy I don’t listen to too much that is this poppy, but this was as good a stepping stone into the genre as it could get. I can’t wait to hear more from this band, and only hope that they build on their sound a little more with their next release, adding a little more intrigue to their music!

Score: 7/10

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Voices: Metal’s Next Big Radio Band?

UK-based metal band Dead Romantic dropped their debut album, ‘Voices’, today. We managed to get exclusive access to it a few days early to review it and I have to say I am very thankful; this album is pretty awesome. If you want a more in-depth review than that, by all means, keep reading! 

‘My Parade (Fuck You)’ opens with a pretty heavy guitar riff and some awesome tech/electronic sounds behind it, giving off pretty major Bring me the Horizon or Linkin Park vibes. It drops back to just the electronics, drums, and the powerful vocals for the verse, adding some great dynamics as it slowly builds to a MASSIVE chorus. It’s catchy as anything and highlighted perfectly by the heavier instrumentation again. I have to admit the lyrics are a little more juvenile than what I prefer, but I understand the emotion behind the song and they definitely fit. The end of the second chorus heralds a great breakdown and a pretty impressive, technical guitar solo. Both could have gone on slightly longer I’d have said, but it’s a very small nit-pick really, that I want more of the quality song! A fantastic opener and introduction to the band for anyone unfamiliar!

One of the singles, ‘Kissed with a Lie’, is another that opens on a huge riff after a few seconds of atmospheric build, this time the vocals coming in right from the offset with what I imagine will be the chorus hook. It again drops down for a slower, quieter verse, almost giving me My Chemical Romance vibes for some reason! The chorus is again massive and even catchier than the previous songs, a clear indicator as to why this was a single. Another great little breakdown follows the second chorus, heavy but also radio-friendly at the same time. It again wasn’t quite as long as I feel it could have been before it drops down to another slower part, but I’m just becoming more and more a sucker for heavy music, it seems! We then have a final huge chorus to finish things off. This was awesome and easily makes the playlist.

This band is just full of heavy industrial metal-style riffs, as ‘Assassin’ proves with the third straight awesome opening riffs. However, almost thankfully actually, it stays pretty heavy through the verse with some awesome drum work. It still builds well into a slower, radio-baity chorus filled with huge guitar chords and soring, sing-alongable vocals. The guitar solo being over the slow part of the song this time was a nice touch, giving the notes a little more breathing room and added emotion as a result, making it my favourite solo on the album thus far. Again, the big final chorus takes us home and rounds out another great song.

Single ‘Yesterday’ is the slowest song on the album, the opening riff being VERY Linkin Park before it drops down like all the other songs. It also strangely builds up nicely through the verse before dropping all that momentum to go quiet for the pre again. The pre itself builds pretty well in its own right, but it wasn’t needed after the build in the verse. The song is generally slower than the previous ones, reminding me quite a bit of Bullet For My Valentine’s more recent slower songs. We get another slower guitar solo, good but a tad too short again, before the final chorus brings us home. This wasn’t a bad song by any stretch, but it felt a little bland to me, especially for a single.

I made a mistake with my last assessment, it turns out ‘Stay High’ is the slow ballad of the album, not the previous song. It opens on a pretty beautiful slow guitar riff, but the lyrics come in over the top and just remind me of Hollywood Undead, a band I am really not a fan of. I never really thought this sort of vocal style suited ballads, though I know how popular a lot of them are so I know I am in the minority. Still, when the distortion and heaviness comes in with the chorus it makes the song pretty enjoyable at least. I’m shocked a song like this wasn’t chosen as I single, I must admit, but then again at least ‘Yesterday’ was also a slower song. There isn’t much more I can say about this song, it’s a half-decent ballad from a pop-metal band, it’s enjoyable for what it is.

‘Cry For War’ picks up the pace again, but it is just more of the same; big opener, stripped back, slower verse, and a big, open and catchy chorus. There is very little to each song to differ from this aside from the odd short breakdown riff or guitar solo. It’s all pretty formulaic, and I hate to say a tad generic. I am definitely a fan of the style of music and would happily listen to the odd track of it if it came on on the radio or my playlist, but I’m struggling to listen to a full album of the same structure and feel and little variety. I do understand that it’s the band’s debut album though so I understand the need to establish their style and get the point across, it just got a little boring by this point.

I, unfortunately, have the same sort of analysis for the final single from the album ‘Fight Me’. However, I do have to say, it was a really, really good track. The chorus was on point, the breakdown riff was heavy and infectious and the instrumentation, in general, was fantastic. This is my favourite track on the album, despite what I have just said about the style in general. It easily makes the playlist!

Strangely, as if raising a middle finger to me, ‘Alibi’ comes along next and almost sounds like an indie-rock song. While I do take back some of what I said earlier on, the variety has come fairly late in the album, so maybe my issue is the front-loading nature of albums these days. After all, it’s rare that people listen to albums in full these days, so it makes a lot of sense. Dead Romantic, I’m sorry. That won’t happen often, I’d frame that and put it on the wall. I got massively off track here… I enjoyed the song! It was an interesting blend of styles and feels that I feel hasn’t been explored even nearly enough before now. It also had a pretty epic feel to it, compared to a few of the others, and the outro was pretty sick. It may even make the playlist, who knows… why don’t you go and check it out and see for yourself…?

The last three songs go back to the same formula as the first half of the album but at this point, I don’t mind it. All three were decent songs filled with catchy vocal hooks, fun grooves, and some awesome and heavy riffs. It’s still radio-friendly but again that isn’t a bad thing at all, I just wish the band had gone for it a bit more on one or two of the songs!

Overall: This was pretty damn good. As far as debut albums go this was better than most and the band definitely have one hell of a future ahead of them. There are a few INCREDIBLE tracks here that really stand out and I shall be listening to a lot over the coming months. I just hope they build on this sound going forward and (fingers crossed), add to the heaviness and riffs a little more. If some of the riffs had more time to breathe, this may have been up there with one of my favourite albums of the year. Even still, though, it is very damn good.

Score: 8/10

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Last Hyena + FES + Blight Town @ The Chameleon, Nottingham

What a fantastic lineup for Overtone’s first live gig review – three of Britain’s best and brightest rising math rock-esque bands all under one roof. Local boys Blight Town are a great blend of math rock and post hardcore, FES are on the more pop/punk side (and have frequently been referred to as the Paramore of math rock thanks to lead singer Polly’s stunning tone) while the headliners are an instrumental powerhouse of the genre. Hosted by IKE Promotions at Nottingham’s fantastic little venue, The Chameleon, it promised a great (if sweaty) night of live music. 

Blight Town

Blight Town come on to a packed crowd and immediately blasted into half an hour of fast paced, heavy post hardcore music. Every member of the band is incredibly talented but I couldn’t help but gravitate towards the singer; his clean vocals and screams were both incredible and he managed to switch between the two with little effort. The local boys brought a good few fans of their own so it was great to see the crowd reacting and singing along, giving the band a little more energy and passion. A great opening band and the perfect one for the night.

FES

After a short break, FES came on to absolutely blow the roof off the place. Blight Town were a tough act to follow, but FES managed it. Their unique blend of math rock and catchy guitar-pop hooks and choruses was captivating from start to finish. The vocals were amazing, eerily reminiscent of the likes of Hayley Williams, and being able to sing like that while also playing crazy math rock riffs is an extraordinary talent. Not to discedit the rest of the band, though, who were both equally talented and fit the music and style perfectly. They blasted through a forty-five minute set that felt like it had run for no time at all, leaving the crowd easily wanting more but being ‘forced’ to head over to the merch booth instead.

FES FACTS:

  • FES originally, and ironically, stood for Flat Earth Society until the public began to take the name too seriously – their name has been shortened to FES ever since to skip the confusion
  • For such a popular and enthusiastic band on stage, they are all admittedly introverts.
  • With a booking manager based in Truro, FES frequently find themselves travelling across the country for tours and festivals.

What venues do you like to play at? Have you been to The Chameleon before?

Tom: We played at Brewdog once at Tramlines which was really weird because there were loads of middle aged people trying to get a pint or eating and we were in the corner doing our weird shit.

Matt: We played in this DIY place called the Audacious Art Experiment and it was like 30 people crammed into basically a cupboard.

Polly: I think we just really like the DIY style.

Tom: This is our first time at The Chameleon. I’ve been aware of The Chameleon for a long time – I was supposed to come to a gig here like 10 years ago but I had to go to parents evening instead.

Matt: Did you get a good report?

Tom: No! But it’s a really cool venue with obviously a lovely audience so it’s really good to play.

So up until now you’ve released EPs but you have a debut album out soon. Is there a different writing or recording process you go through?

Polly: The biggest difference when recording this album was the pandemic because we couldn’t see each other.

Tom: We couldn’t see each other for months and that’s hard when you’re wanting to write. We hired out an Air BnB, it was like a cabin in Wales on the coast and we wrote like six or seven songs in that time.

Matt: That was just before the pandemic hit – it was January 2020. So we were like ‘it’s all going well’ and then… March. But we did a lot of online stuff and it started to ease up again so we tried to make it work.

Polly: Because an album is more songs we felt more stress anyway and with the timing of it, because we had the studio booked before we had the songs, we had this deadline coming up. There was a lot of anxiety but it all worked out.

Tom: We recorded it two months ago. There’s going to be 11 songs and we’ve only got 10 songs out in the world anyway so we’re going to double the amount of songs available to people. It’s all mixed and we’ve got the artwork, we just need to get it mastered.

Matt: And to get a record label to be nice to us.

Tom: Hopefully we’ve got a tour next May which was meant to happen last year that’s been rebooked so if we can get it out before May that’s ideal.

How does it feel being called the Paramore of math rock?

Polly: We get it often. I was brought up on her and I love all of their whole discography and how it’s developed. I think they’re a genius band and I love Hayley’s solo stuff too.

Matt: I think a lot of bands with female vocalists get compared to Haley Williams.

Tom: We’re friends with a band with a female vocalist and they get it a lot.

Matt: It’s like one reference point for women or something. But we like them so we’ll take it.

Are there any other bands you take inspiration from?

Tom: I think we all have different influences and I guess it’s like a mix. Polly is the main writer, don’t get me wrong.

Polly: Yeah bands like Tube Law, Delta Sleep, Fish Tank. I have personal ones for writing style like Regina Spectre.

Matt: We have influences from when we started which have changed.

Polly: Biffy Clyro are probably a big one because they were really mathy when they first started off. I really liked early Orchids, they were a big influence too.

Matt: Well me and Tom grew up as metal heads. I was obsessed with Iron Maiden. I could tell you anything.

Tom: His old email was like “mattlikesironmaiden@something”

How would you sum up the theme of your upcoming album?

Polly: So there’s lots of themes of mortality and childhood. I wrote a lot of the songs once my grandad died so it’s almost nostalgic.

Tom: All of your lyrics are really personal to you really about what’s going on in that time.

Polly: They probably don’t make sense to anyone else but me. I wrote a song about Matt because I wrote a song about Tom in 2017 and Matt always been like “when are you going to do one about me?”

Matt: So she wrote a song about me having a breakdown.

Tom: So was mine! If we keep having breakdowns, we’re going to get some more tunes. They were songs of support though and I think that happens a lot with songwriting. When you have things going on quite drastic or emotional it can serve as a catalyst for writing. Some people I think go for different narratives but our music is quite personal.

Matt: We do like the idea of doing a concept album though.

Polly: I kind of want to write a musical because I think our music is quite theatrical anyway so if we write a concept album and then turn it, adapt it into an actual theatre production that’s like the goal with FES.

Last Hyena

Last Hyena took the stage last and once again blew the crowd away. Step aside Rush. Step aside Muse. There is a new up-and-coming three man collection of the most talented musicians out there. I can’t remember ever seeing a band play as tightly live as they did, and all three showed off their incredible affinity for their instruments. For a wholly instrumental band too, they held the attention of every single crowd member there for their entire set with their infectious grooves, melodies and obvious love for their craft. They were having fun, which meant the audience were having more fun as a result – their personalities shone through which is always amazing to see. Again, the 45 minute set went by in a flash – calling to an end a fantastic night of live music. 

We managed to sit down with the headliners before the gig to talk about their recent tour.

How do you feel playing to a live crowd again after a year of restrictions?

Max: It’s amazing, it’s like having a piece of ourselves back really.

Rory: We played our first show back in Bristol where we’re based and it was honestly the weirdest feeling. We’ve been practicing for the whole 18 months every week in our studio space so we’ve just been writing and practicing. The first gig back and setting up before we played we all felt giddy. It was so nice to get back into it.

Max: It’s been full on really with the tour and we’ve realised how unfit we are.

Have you played in Nottingham before?

Rory: We have but it’s our first time here which is wicked because it’s a nice space.

Josh: Nottingham’s one of our favourite places, we always try and get on the bill. Whatever the turn out is, the people are there to see it and absolutely love it. There are always hardcore music fans in Nottingham, so it always goes down well.

Max: I always love the really small, intimate venues. You can play to any sort of crowd as long as there are people that want to be there for the music.

How does being a purely instrumental band make you stand out from the bands on tonight’s line up or any other venue that you play at?

Rory: It gives you a lot more freedom which we love. We never set out to be a math rock, kind of post-rocky band. We just started writing music we enjoy and it fell into the math rock genre with ‘and then we do this’ and ‘then we do this segment’ and ‘no one will see it coming.’ It literally is just music to try and keep people on their feet.

Josh: We had an idea when we first started out. Rory and I were in a band before without a vocalist so we decided to play instrumentally as we had gigs booked anyway and thought maybe a vocalist will find us. And then the more gigs we played we thought maybe we don’t need one. We were having far too much fun.

Max: Plus it always gets us on the good side of sound people.

Rory: They’re like “how many vocals?” And we say “none” and they’re like “oh cool!”

Max: Yeah, “any midi?” “No!”

Rory: It’s a different one because take FES with Polly, they have an amazing singer with really catchy choruses whereas we literally don’t have any repetitive parts. Every song has a different phrasing or section, so we have a lot of hooks I’d say but it is an amalgamation of chaos.

Max: Yesterday, people actually sang back to ‘Doctorpus’ on the vocal line.

Rory: A lot of people really into their music will see the musicianship of it and how much idiocity is behind it and be like ‘that was crazy’, it’s so tight etcetera. A lot of people, more like my parents’ age, will say “you don’t have a singer?” And we say no it’s just instrumental!

Josh: And then you say people come to our shows and they’re like “do they?!”

Max: Because it’s such a small genre in terms of how many fans there are really, it’s a very dedicated pool of people. They’re not necessarily massively dedicated to individual bands, they are just there for the scene which is nice. You get people who listen to bands like FES, which is why it’s so nice to play with FES, because while they’re very different to us they also bring in the same sort of people so you get people into what they do but not us and vice versa.

Josh: There’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you’re a fan of rock sub-genres, or have a respect for the instrumental skill it takes to be part of a math rock band, check out any of the bands from this line up via Overtone’s Insta.

Wallflowers: Will Jinjer continue to ride their huge wave of momentum?

Jinjer exploded into the more mainstream metal scene a couple of years ago now after a video of their studio session of the song ‘Pisces’ went viral as it showed off Tatiana’s incredible vocal range. They have toured the world since and released two subsequent albums, growing more and more seemingly by the day. I have to admit I have not checked out as much of the band as I probably should have, but I have enjoyed what I have heard enough to make me happy to listen to their new album, ‘Wallflowers’. Here is the review from that listen!

‘Call me a Symbol’ opens straight into a pretty decent modern metal riff, technical and weird. Tatiana’s harsh screams soon in over the top, adding to the heaviness. It does feel like a bit of an unorganised start but soon heads into a pretty great blast beat from the drums through the verse. I assumed the slightly more open part with the bends from the guitars was the chorus, the vocals being pretty quickly delivered still but were pretty catchy nonetheless. There was a great part just before the two-minute mark where Tatiana’s clean vocals come in behind the scream. It was only for a line, but it added so much to the track and made me like it a lot more.  There’s some insane riffing after this part, the bass being the real highlight as it follows the guitar perfectly. The vocals clean up for a bridge, Tatiana’s voice sounding just as good, effortlessly switching between the two. We then get an awesome outro with both screaming and cleans to finish things off. While this felt a little disjointed at times and it was an odd way to open an album, this song really grew on me, and I was enjoying it by the end!

‘Colossus’ opens on an equally big, heavy riff to the previous song. It slows up a little in the verse, the vocals making it all sound almost evil, some definite black metal in here. It doesn’t take long to speed back up, making the track somehow even heavier. The chorus cleans up vocally, the transition being ridiculously good and clean. It’s pretty catchy too, even if it doesn’t last long before going into screaming again. The riff after the chorus was chuggy awesomeness, and it carries on through the verse too, so win-win. The bridge is nuts, and Tatiana’s scream somehow gets even heavier, low and harsh, even more impressive for a woman to pull off. We then get another final chorus and outro to finish. This was awesome, definitely one of the most enjoyable songs I’ve heard from the band. Playlisted!

The lead single from the album ‘Vortex’, is up next. It is clear they are building on the success of ‘Pisces’, it has a similar stripped back, clean guitar chord progression and snare-heavy drumbeat behind it. Heck, Tatiana even stays in a similar range, vocally. Interestingly though it builds to a clean-vocalled chorus, not a scream like ‘Pisces’. Honestly, I prefer it. As impressive and jarring as the scream was when everyone first saw/heard it, this is simply a better, catchier chorus. I find it hard to admit it isn’t down to the cleans, too. It does get heavy and growly for a pretty great breakdown in the middle, a couple of great riffs from the guitar and Tatiana’s vocals are again impressive through it. It just gets heavier and heavier by the end, and honestly, the structure of this song was all over the place, but then maybe that was the intention? Either way, another impressive song!

‘Disclosure!’ has a pretty entertaining opening, a good riff leading to some catchy vocals right from the offset, and for once the band actually sounds like they are having fun. Even the screamed, heavier second verse has a great aura of fun and enjoyment to it. It almost felt punkier than anything else, or at least a hardcore song. I loved it and it’s another one that makes the playlist!

By ‘Copycat’ I have to admit I was getting a little sick of being slapped in the face with a big, complicated riff straight out of the gate with nearly every song up until now. I don’t imagine it’s going to change either though, so I best learn to accept it! This was an okay song that reminded me a fair bit of the opener. It’s very Jinjer, pretty complex in both instrumentation and structure, crazy heavy in places but also lighter and catchier in others. It was a good showcase of everything they do all rolled into one four-and-a-half-minute track, which is in both parts awesome and odd.

The exact same could be said about the following songs, ‘Pearls and Swine’ and ‘Sleep with the Righteous’. Both were good, enjoyable songs (though a little too all over the place for me at times), but they both encapsulate everything the band does that perfectly that I struggle to talk about just one specific part. It’s all good but similar. As such, there isn’t much I can say that I haven’t already!

The album’s title track (nearly) and the latest single, ‘Wallflower’, opens on a slower, cleaner riff much as ‘Vortex’ did. This one however stays low and stripped back for over half of it though, the chorus even being pretty light even though the guitars have some distortion. We don’t get a scream until after 2:30 minutes, and even then it just adds to the epic feel around the clean vocals, as opposed to overpowering the track. It has more screams too, but they add a great heaviness to the outro. A good song, and one that makes the playlist!

‘Dead Hands…’ explodes into the track so immediately I had to check my Spotify hadn’t messed up. Outside of that unwanted madness, this is another total Jinjer song. I imagine if you like their heavier, proggier side then you’d love it, but for me, it just sounds like a mess of riffs and ideas pushed together into one song.

‘As I Boil Ice’ explodes into the track so immediately I had to check my Spotify hadn’t messed up. Outside of that unwanted madness, this is another total Jinjer song. I imagine if you like their heavier, proggier side then you’d love it, but for me, it just sounds like a mess of riffs and ideas pushed together into one song.

Woah, Deja Vue….

The final track on the album and another single, ‘Mediator’, is good, though surprisingly not memed near as much as I thought it would have been thanks to the ‘stop… go!’ part at the start. However, it is definitely less cringy without the video accompaniment, I have to say. Outside of the opening, it has some of the best riffs on the album, and the slower chorus vocals are catchy and fantastic and the back half of the track as it gets crazy heavy was awesome. A great way to end an album that was equal parts great and odd.

Overall: I enjoyed this about what I was expecting. I’m okay with admitting that I don’t get a lot of new metal, taking influence from prog but doing it to the extreme and making pointlessly complexly structured songs don’t sound good to me, just messy. However, there was still a lot that I liked about this album, even if it wasn’t all of one song or another. This band has a huge cult following and I can see why, they are all massively talented, but now that I have listened to a whole album I still don’t ‘get it’ for the most part.

Score: 7/10

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We Three Kings – Rock And Blues, the positives of the business and their new single!

Manchester’s own hard rock band, We Three Kings, had the wonderful opportunity to be on stage for one of England’s first festivals of the (hopefully) post-Covid era, Rock & Blues. The band were playing in support of their latest single, ‘Walk’, the eighth release by the band across their 5+ years of existence. 

‘Walk’ comes at a pivotal time not just for the band, but for the music industry in general. As the UK slowly comes out of its latest lockdown and festivals and venues are all open for business once more, the band are primed and ready to seize the rest of the year and make it their own.

So firstly, how was Rock & Blues? 

Yeah it was great! First gig back in 18 months for us so that was a big event in itself. And then obviously any time you do a festival it’s a pretty cool experience, just to be surrounded by people that are up for seeing live music. Particularly that crowd, they were very much into the sort of music that we do so it went down really well. The weather was absolutely terrible so that was the only downside really! But then it wouldn’t be a British festival without it raining, would it? 

‘But no it was good. A great experience, really good people, saw some other good bands, had a good time… just pleased to be back at it, really, doing gigs again more than anything.’ 

I imagine the crowd were pretty high energy too with it being most people’s first gig back?

‘Yeah absolutely, everyone seemed really up for it. It was a bit surreal being in a crowded place with lots of other people after all this time but you had to provide all your COVID information and everything when you got there so they’d done all the right things. Everybody was as safe as they could be in that respect.

‘We got some really good feedback on the day and a lot of good messages and stuff since the gig as well. It’s good, those sorts of opportunities are really good for getting yourself in front of the right audience and on a good platform. We enjoyed it and it’s given us a taste of getting back to gigging now so we want to get back at it!’

Do you have a plan from here? Do you have a goal in mind for the next 12 months?

‘Just getting up to speed really. We’re based in Manchester and we’ve got a few local promoters that we tend to work with quite regularly so we’re just starting to put some more dates in the diary over the next few months. 

‘But, as a general trajectory, we want to try and get more of those sorts of opportunities. Often promoters can struggle to place us on the right bills with like-minded bands; they sometimes put us on with more indie crowds and sometimes with really heavy rock bands while we’re probably somewhere in between. So we want to work hard to get the right sorts of opportunities and get back to gigging.’

It did feel for a while that that sort of middle ground rock sound was beginning to fade, with bands either being indie or massively heavy, but it does feel like it is starting to see a resurgence. 

‘Yeah, I don’t think the audience for it ever went away, it’s just like everything in that it comes in waves. For whatever reason guitar bands generally were out of fashion for a while [but] there seems to be a resurgence coming back now. People are starting to land in either that indie, Liam Gallagher kind of scene or they’re opting to go for the more classic rock revival or the more heavy stuff as well. The audiences are there, it’s just finding the right opportunities and the right channels to reach them.’ 

For people who aren’t so familiar with your music, what sort of genre would you describe yourself as? 

‘I would say heavy blues or blues rock. Black Keys, White Stripes, Wolfmother, Royal Blood, that kind of thing. A very riff laden, buzzed up, beefy guitar sound, high energy, big vocals; that’s generally the sort of bands that tend to get referenced to us. Rival Sons is another big one that we get. Even Led Zeppelin, people tell us that they can pick up a bit of Zeppelin in what we do. Lots of good, positive references! You get those sort of names passed to you think ‘yep, that’s good, we’re obviously doing something right because they’re all great bands!’’

Outside of the bands you are compared to, are there any others that you would say are an influence to you guys? 

‘There’s a couple of bands coming out of the States that we’ve seen that aren’t a million miles away from what we do. There’s a duo from Canada called The Blue Stones that are quite similar. There’s another band called Cleopatric that might again be from Canada actually. So there are smaller bands doing a similar sort of thing which gives us some encouragement that this is an audience for it and people out there want to hear it. Typically they tend to be in the States so maybe in the UK we’re a bit behind in terms of catching up to that sound but hopefully we’re heading in the right direction!’

So we unfortunately have to address the pandemic in the room. How’s it been for you guys over the last 18 months? 

‘It’s been tough because obviously live music just ground to a halt so you don’t have those anchor points in the diary that you’re working towards. So all of a sudden you’re rudderless as a band because you’ve not got anything to work towards. That’s been a weird thing to get your head around. And just generally it’s been very stop start with the restrictions that have been in place in terms of getting together and rehearsing. In lockdown One (March-July) we shut down completely for two or three months like pretty much everybody did, didn’t even rehearse at all. We got back into writing through the summer and got a couple of tracks written, including ‘walk’ (find it here) so we did have a period of productivity there. Then we reached the winter months and we went back into another shutdown for a number of months. It’s only been since maybe April that we’ve been back at it and gradually things are opening up and getting back to some sort of normality. It’s been a really tough up and down 18 months. 

‘We did manage to get into the studio in April and do a couple of recordings. We’ve just released one and we’ve got another in the can that we’re going to bring out towards the end of the year, most likely. It feels like we’ve got something to aim for now, we’re feeling good, but it was definitely hard. We’ve particularly felt for the small independent venues, a few of them that we’ve lost but a lot of them seem to have scraped through as well. Hopefully people will have more of an appetite for live music, having been away from them for so long.’ 

How was it trying to keep the ball rolling in terms of social media through it all?

‘To be honest with you that’s the biggest drag of being in a band, really, is having to keep your content flowing constantly. Sometimes you do feel like you’re just scratching around for things to talk about. We did a couple of little acoustic videos from home where we recorded all of our parts individually and patched them together, which was good fun. Just keeping up with a few photos and updates about what is going on too, really. When you’re in shutdown there’s only so much you can talk about, so it has been tricky. But back to normal now, and we have no shortage of things to pester people about now!’ 

Trying to up the positivity a little, what is your favourite part of the music industry?

There are two things really; playing live is what every band exists to do really so that’s the biggest buzz and payoff you get is when you’re on stage and you’re getting a really good reception. But also the creative process of starting with nothing and ending up with an original piece of music, a video and everything that surrounds that. And then to release that to the world and get a positive reception and you just think ‘we’re doing something right’. And when you’re old and grey you can look back at it and be proud that you made it. Even just getting together with your mates and making noise is enjoyable, as much hard work as it is!’ 

If there is one thing you could change about the music industry, what would it be? 

‘The key one is that it can sometimes feel like a very closed shop for smaller bands and ones trying to break through; that no matter how hard you try, there is always this sense of no matter how hard you try it’s more a case of who you know or how much you can pay to get on the show or how many mates can you bring to a gig. Your music could be crap but if you can bring 100 mates it’s listed as successful. There’s a lot of disparity in terms of the music not being the key ingredient to being successful. It’s frustrating for us, there are so many outside factors working for or against a band instead of just their music being the core component of the product.’

You’ve said you’ve got a single just released, any plans for a full album?

‘We’re just going from single to single at the moment. We find for a band in our position is the best way to keep regular momentum up. We do have a decent enough back catalogue which we could put together as an album but for now we’re just focusing on singles. Three a year would be our typical cadence of releases. We’ve just put out ‘Walk’ and it’s been received really well so we’re riding that out at the moment. We have another to release by the end of the year and will hopefully get back to writing and recording soon so that by 2022 we’ll be back all guns blazing.’

Do you prefer the more staggered releases of singles over dropping an album every few years or so, then? 

‘It all comes down to resources at the end of the day. How much time and money have you got to be in a band and what is going to give you the best return on the investment you are making. For us, we find that the single to single approach is best for us right now. If we put an album together, whilst it would be a great thing to have and to have achieved, I don’t think we’d get the same return as our singles. Maybe one day it is something we’d like to do, but it isn’t right for us at the moment.’ 

Time for the million dollar question: If you could have written one song from history, what would it be? 

‘It’s not necessarily our sound, but ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is a completely unique, one-off track. How someone even sits down and writes that is beyond me, so I’d say that. 

‘If it’s something closer to what we do then you could probably pick one of a dozen Led Zepplin songs that are absolutely epic and we could relate to in terms of playing. But there are a LOT of good songs out there, so I’d say ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ if I had to put my name on one!’

With the new single, is it much different to your previous work in terms of direction and sound?

‘With this release we’ve worked with a new producer, Joe Sage of Nevis Audio, and it’s the first time we’ve worked with him so if you compare the track back to our previous stuff there is a bit of a difference in terms of production style. We’ve also just gone all guns blazing with this track, since it’s been so long away with COVID, we wanted something that would hit you straight between the eyes and be upfront and in your face. Our other recording is a little less in your face but we’re still excited about that as well. Typically our songs fit into quite a clear genre so it’s not a massive departure from the stuff we’ve done previously but you’re always trying to evolve as a songwriter and make it better than the last one, and we think we’ve done that here.’

Have you got any gigs in the pipeline? 

We’ve not got anything until October now but that’ll be a local gig in Manchester on the 22nd. We keep our socials up to date in terms of new dates in the diary though so anyone who’s interested keep an eye on those! 

Follow the band through all the usual channels under We Three Kings, and keep up to date on our other interviews here.

Initiation: Are Napalm’s newest stars about to shoot for the stars?

Canadian Punk-metallers Sumo Cyco has garnered a lot of attention and buzz recently after having signed a contract with Napalm Records. They have since begun to establish themselves among the next crop of new bands breaking into the mainstream. Now, with their third album being released earlier this year, Initiation, they look to firmly establish themselves among the leaders of the pack. I have been a fan of this band for a few years now after discovering them at Download Festival, though I have to admit I haven’t been fully sold by the singles I have heard from Initiation up to this point. Let’s hope a second listen will change my mind!

‘Love you Wrong’ was the first single to be released way back in 2019, and somehow I haven’t heard this one yet. It starts things off surprisingly very positively. It bursts straight in with Skye’s harsher style of vocals (something I’d always preferred over her trying to sound like Benji Webbe) and a simple yet great-sounding guitar and bass riff behind it. It has a great groove to it but still sounds pretty heavy and epic. The vocals are a little cleaner for the chorus, but it’s pretty catchy and the screamed backing vocals added some great dynamics. It strips back after the second chorus, slowing down momentarily and having a cleaner guitar and basic drums. It doesn’t last long, soon getting heavy into an extended bridge. It builds nicely into the huge final chorus to finish things off. I actually enjoyed this a whole lot more than I remember liking any of the other singles, so for that reason, it makes the playlist!

One of the more recent singles (and one I have heard before), ‘Bystander’, is up next. I immediately remembered why I didn’t like this as much. A white Canadian girl pronouncing the word as ‘bystanda’ in an almost too attempted-rasta voice doesn’t really do much for me. I understand how inspired by Skindred this band is, and I applaud them for trying out a style that very few are trying to emulate, but at least don’t try and copy everything down to the accent. However, outside of that, I actually quite like this song. Skye’s harshes have always sounded better to me, and the control she has over her voice to jump between the two at the drop of a hat is impressive. The instrumentation is pretty basic but also pretty heavy, fitting the genre perfectly. I also have to admit that her forced accent is a little more tolerable during the actual choruses when the heaviness of the instruments distracts from it a little. We get an electronic down part after the second chorus, it masterfully building back up in heaviness as it heads into its final double chorus. We get a far too short HEAVY breakdown riff to close things out, too. If I’m honest, I actually enjoyed this a lot more than I remember doing when I first heard it, it’s definitely a grower. So much so that it has also made the playlist!

Another single, ‘Vertigo’, is up next. The opening riff is pretty entertaining and heavy, but the verse doesn’t do a whole lot for me, it just kind of feels just there. If I’m honest, that’s kind of how the chorus feels, too. It’s not as catchy as the other two choruses, despite being the most pop-leaning of the three. Also, there is a bad little rap bit after the second chorus. I’m usually a fan of rap music too, especially in rock, but this didn’t work at all. A final chorus takes us home and ends a song that I wasn’t that big of a fan of.

The most recent pre-release song is up next, ‘Bad News’. Skye again does her best Benji impression and it ruins an otherwise entertaining guitar riff behind it. However, when that riff kicks in properly, it is AWESOME. It’s massively groovy and gives off some clear nu-metal vibes. Much like the previous song, both the verses and choruses are okay but nothing special, just kind of there to have some lyrics around the fantastic riff, by far the highlight of the song. The bridge is pretty average too, outside of the entertaining guitar. Overall it was my least favourite song on the album so far, but heck, it’s still good enough that I wouldn’t turn it off if it came on.

Another single (there are a lot), ‘No Surrender’ is next. I remember I’ve listened to this one before, too. More Skindred-type lyrics start this off, it opening slower and more reserved than most of the others. The lyrics are pretty good here though! The chorus is an improvement on the verse and the previous two, the vocal and guitar melodies working pretty perfectly together to make it pretty damn catchy. The heavy riff and drums for the bridge is good, as are the harsh vocals over the top of them. It then follows the formula, heading into a final chorus before another excellent breakdown finishes things off. An improvement on the last two songs and an enjoyable song for sure!

Halfway through the album and we finally reach the first song that is brand new and hasn’t been released prior, ‘M.I.A.’. It opens on a pretty interesting guitar riff and, while the accent still annoys me, the delivery and timing of the vocals were interesting too, almost giving off a Skints feel to it all. The song stays pretty stripped back and basic throughout; mainly focused around the electronic noises over the usual rock instruments. It also reminds me just a little of Spiders, the weird song on the latest Slipknot album. I think the simple nature works well here, too. Not only does it provide something different; a pallet cleanser mid-album, but it sounds fantastic while doing it. It gets a tad heavier in the final chorus, the distorted guitars coming in behind the rest, but it just adds more depth to the song instead of overshadowing what was already there. This may be one of my favourite songs on the album this far, at least up there with a couple of the others.

Another album track, ‘Cyclone’, opens on a sick riff and easily the best instrumentation work I have ever heard from the band. The riffs sound almost Avenged Sevenfold in their quick, heavy weirdness. Unfortunately, they don’t keep it up, going into a more typical sound for the band through the verses and choruses. Heck, the pre and chorus are so pop they sound like they should be from a completely different song to the guitars. The bridge is more Skindred-but-not-quite-as-good too, and there isn’t much more to the back end of this song, just the usual final chorus to end things. It’s such a shame too because I got so pumped from that opening riff, but the rest of the song ruined it a fair bit for me.

Onto the final pre-released song on the album, and another I’d heard before (admittedly a while back), ‘Run with the Giants’. I remember not liking it all too much upon its release and, after hearing just the intro alone, I can see why. The riff after the intro is pretty interesting and heavy again, but Skye’s vocals come in and kind of ruin it for me, making the instruments drop back out until the chorus. Even the chorus isn’t all too strong here, this is the worst track on the album by quite a margin, in my opinion. I think Skindred does so well because they have a lot of pop and reggae elements to their music, but they are also HEAVY a lot of the time. I felt that with Sumo Cyco’s last album, but outside of a couple of instances this album has basically just been a pop one with guitars in the back. It isn’t a bad thing at all, just simply not for me. Like the breakdown was fairly heavy in this song, but I’d rather enjoy an entire song over just twenty seconds in the middle.

‘Overdrive’ again perfectly encapsulates everything I just said in my previous paragraph, it being a pop/club song masquerading as a punk-metal song due to the inclusion of guitars. The chorus is kind of catchy but nothing more really stands out. Meanwhile, ‘Power and Control’ slows things down a little again, at least at first, and it honestly seems to be where the band excels more. It’s a simple song, a low, slightly receptive verse and a harder, bigger chorus, but it works a hell of a lot better than the last few songs have.

The final song on the album, ‘This Dance is Doomed’, feels like the song that most sounds like their previous album’s material. It’s pretty fast, heavy throughout, and still contains enough hooks and pop melodies that it’s extremely catchy. If anything, I’d have put this as a single over half of the others that actually made the cut. In fact, this may be my favourite song on the album, all things considered. We got a heavy and then a stripped-back bridge before the massively catchy final chorus comes in. Then, an extended, heavy outro takes it home, and this is honestly all I wanted from this album. It’s just a shame it was right at the end! Playlisted!  

Overall: this was a real mixed bag, I thought. Much like the other band, they take inspiration from and I have mentioned in this review too many times prior as it is, their style simply doesn’t lend itself to full studio albums, more to live shows and singles. There were definitely some good punk-metal songs on here, and a couple will be up there alongside some of my favourite songs from the band. However, there was also a fair amount of stuff that I didn’t like here. It wouldn’t at all stop me from paying to see them if we ever get a full tour over here, but I shan’t be putting this full album on rotation all that much.

Overall: 6.5/10

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Don’t You Feel Amazing?: Trash Boat’s new album brings rock to the pop masses

British punk rock band Trash Boat has been heavying up the scene for nearly a decade now. With three albums now under their belt, alongside a handful of EPs and singles, the band has firmly established itself as one of the bright lights of the future. I have to admit that I haven’t listened to this band nearly enough, especially since what I have heard I’ve enjoyed. So, without further ado, here is my review of ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’.

The title track of the album opens on a low, pretty heavy bass riff before the vocals and drums come in and drag it surprisingly firmly into indie territory. Even when the main riff kicks in it feels like something that would easily fit in as a heavier track at Ynot Festival. It’s not a bad thing, just a little unexpected given what I have heard from them before. Still, the backing vocals through it were nice, as was the awesome effect on them around a minute in. The chorus is still pretty light but it’s pretty damn catchy, something that would go down a storm live. It reminds me a lot of Lower Than Atlantis, actually. The low bass riff continues through a pretty fun (if simple) guitar solo, one that gets overshadowed by the vocals. They’re still catchy, but I’d have liked to have a tad more lead guitar stuff first. We then get a final, elongated chorus to finish things off. While this was completely different from what I was expecting, it was damn catchy and enjoyable, making the playlist.

One of the lead singles, ‘Silence is Golden’ is immediately the heavier nature of the band I was expecting coming into this. It heads straight into harsher vocals and heavy guitars and drums before another awesome riff comes out the end. This would have been a better opener for the album, for sure. Everything but the guitars and vocals drop out for the first half of the verse, adding some great dynamics into the track. It all builds up pretty well into a HUGE chorus, catchy and fun, even if it was very poppy and the lyrics were cringingly faux-‘hard’ and juvenile. The build-up to the breakdown was pretty great, the preaching vocals always working so well in this style of music. However, the breakdown itself was weak, basic, and not all too heavy, which was a shame. Between it and the lyrics, it kind of put me off the song a little.

The first of two tracks to feature a guest artist, ‘Bad Entertainment’ opens on a fairly entertaining (pun intended) riff. It continues through the verse, adding to the catchiness overall. It all builds into a pretty decent chorus, not quite as catchy as the previous songs’ but still enjoyable. It’s the best part of this otherwise pop song, anyway! Milkie Way (nope, I’m not kidding) comes in for the bridge after the second chorus, feeling like a cheap version of Poppy. I’m sure it was fun for them to work together, but she adds next to nothing to this track that Tobi Duncan couldn’t have done himself. There isn’t much more to this song apart from it getting a little heavier for the final chorus, but it doesn’t last long until it ends. The definition of ‘meh’.

Aside from the catchy opening vocals, there isn’t much I can say about ‘Love Without Needing’ that I didn’t already say about the previous song. It’s a pop song with some slightly heavier, distorted guitars behind the vocals. I mean heck, the vocal melody is eerily reminiscent of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ don’t you think? None of those factors make it a rock song, never mind a punk song. There is nothing punk about this, and that makes me sad.

Lead single ‘He’s So Good’ almost fell under the same criticism of the previous song, until the chorus came into it. It’s still very pop-leaning, but at least the instrumentation is heavier behind it and we get a fairly okay indie riff afterwards. Some of the lyrics feel at least a little heartfelt, but after hearing a couple of interesting lines and Googling the rest, they’re really quite terrible. Another pretty bad song.

‘Vertigo’ is at least another fully rock song, the first one in a good four tracks at this point, but I was that put off by the last few songs that this didn’t build up much goodwill for me. And I’m not even saying pop or pop-rock is bad, it’s just that I’m pretty selective with the genre as a whole, and when I’m expecting an actual rock/punk album a bunch of pop would put me off. So, in summary, ‘Vertigo’ is one of the better songs on the album by proxy.

The second song to feature an artist, this time Kamiyada+ (I don’t know them either) is next. It’s a little heavy again, at least the chorus is, but it’s repetitive as hell and more juvenile, unenjoyable lyrics. I guess the guest is a rapper, as he raps here. It’s surprising the best part of the song, and it’s made me wish I was listening to more of his stuff than this album. Again, this album is fine for what it is, and if anyone likes it then awesome. It’s simply a little too basic and pop-leaning for my taste in rock.

‘Idios’ all but fades into the background aside for a pretty decent breakdown hidden in the middle. It’s more that could be said about ‘Cannibal’ and ‘All I Can Never Be’ though, both of which felt more like something from Kings of Leon or Highly Suspect than a British punk rock band. They were pretty bland, even the choruses not really standing out as others on the album have been better. They felt a tad like filler but were okay for what they were, I guess.

The final single, ‘Synthetic Sympathy’, opens like a Maroon 5 song. And not like their good early stuff either, I’m talking like a modern Maroon 5 song. If it wasn’t for the odd harsher vocal and distorted guitar it may as well have been a Maroon 5 song, too. It’s catchy as heck, don’t get me wrong, but there is VERY little to this song aside from the vocal melody. Even the lead guitar part is just the same thing over and over. It’s a very safe, radio-friendly song. I wouldn’t be opposed to listening to it again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find it.

Somehow the final song on the album, ‘Maladaptive Daydreaming’, is the most pop-leaning song on the entire album. It’s just vocals and a VERY basic drumbeat, with the odd guitar chords coming in for the choruses. It’s incredibly formulaic, and a direction I can see a lot of modern rock bands going if this sound is successful here, unfortunately. Again, it isn’t bad, it just bores me. A dull end to an album.

Overall: I wasn’t all too impressed by this. I don’t want to sound like a broken record but it was a pop album, not a rock or punk one. It was fine for what it was, but what it was doesn’t appeal to me. I clearly like this band in small doses, just a few songs here and there, as the albums get boring for me. Oh well, none of it was actually bad!

The Score: 4/10

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