Tag Archives: post hardcore

Step Out Your Comfort Zone: Have We Are Sovereign Just Started a Concept Album Revolution?

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!

Check out a vaguely similar review here.

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

New Music Mondays: The Hives, URNE and More!

Another big week in New music, featuring everything from indie to death metal. Joi

The Hives: The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons

Owen: It’s been 11 years since we have heard an original release from Swedish group The Hives. Having spent the last couple of years appearing at festivals big and small, it wasn’t unexpected, but when a band haven’t released anything in a decade it’s hard to keep the hope. 12 tracks of high frequency,
fast-paced, shout-along punk rock, The Hives have created a riot from start to finish. My only complaint is that each track feels like a safe bet from the band. If it ain’t broke… I know, but it feels like any decision they took was a safe choice. The exception to this is the track ‘Stick up’ as it is the only track on the album that could possibly be fit into another genre. ‘Stick up’ leans more into the world of
Blues and the shift in vocals to a more Tom Waits sound was a great addition. Overall, the high energy and electrifying nature of the album makes me hope we don’t have to wait another decade until we hear more from The Hives. 7/10

URNE: A Feast on Sorrow

Joe: I was a HUGE fan of this band’s debut album. After getting turned onto the band by Trivium’s Matt Heafy, I did a very positive review (you can find it here). So, with lofty expectations and anticipation, will they beat an 8.5/10 with their new release?

Opener ‘The Flood Came Rushing In’ took a moment to really grow on me, the more hardcore style vocals and almost punk edge to the speed and attitude throwing me off. However, the slower and cleaner, Machine Head style breakdown in the middle and all the awesomeness that followed really blew me away. It sets the tone for the whole album pretty perfectly, too. ‘To Die Twice’ and the title track channel that early Gojira energy that I was waiting to hear again. Meanwhile single and album highlight ‘Becoming the Ocean’ is a more black metal take on Machine Head’s sound.

And we have to talk about the two prog tracks, ‘A Stumble of Words’ and the closing song. They are everything I want out of this genre of music, and I love them both so much. They’re heavy, brooding, and the perfect blend of black metal, death metal and doom. The riffing is amazing, the vocals are perfect and the structuring and writing is off the charts. The former track in particular may be my favourite that they’ve done, and I’m desperate to see it live.

It’s an incredibly well rounded album that doesn’t feel like over 50 minutes at all. If you’re a fan of the heavier side of metal, I’d recommend checking this out ASAP. It’s going to be in the discussion for album of the year come December, I’m sure. And it does in fact beat the last album, getting a 9/10!

The Sherlocks: People Like Me & You

Charlotte: Indie rock band The Sherlocks have skyrocketed to become a well-loved band in the alternative scene in the past few years, and their latest album People Like Me & You will undoubtedly act as a catalyst in their journey to stardom. Taking inspiration from Yorkshire legends without feeling like copycats, The Sherlocks bring a fresh sound to the genre. Tracks like ‘Sirens’ and ‘Don’t Let It Out’ are predicated to be crowd-loving anthems for their loyal fan base in their upcoming tour. 7.5/10

Public Image Ltd.: End of World

Joe: This was… ooooo… this was bad. John Lydon and Keith Levene’s lovechild dropped their 11th studio album last week, and first in eight years. I’m not the biggest fan of Sex Pistols or The Clash outside of a few songs, so have actively avoided this band for as long as possible. I’m probably going to piss off a lot of people with this review.

‘Penge’ is maybe the worst opening track I’ve ever heard. And, sadly, it doesn’t get much better after that. Unlike my previous review, this one definitely did feel like it was over 50 minutes long. I wanted to turn it off by the third track, yet I still had 10 to go. Johnny’s never had the best voice in the industry, but my god it felt like he was struggling at times here, sounding like a strangled cat. The instrumentation for the most part is fine. If you like basic 70s/80s new-wave with a touch of early punk, that is. And while there were a couple of catchy moments throughout, the lyrics were pretty terrible for the most part.

If you found yourself liking this, great. I understand why the band have fans, but I am certainly not one of them. 2/10, I shall continue ignoring this band now.

Caskets: Reflections

Joe: The UK melodic hard rock/metal band put out their sophomore album on Friday. While the Pierce the Veil/Asking Alexandria sound does feel a tad dated in 2023 for a new band, it’s still a good album. The modern-ish sound simply doesn’t have the edge or intrigue that the genre has developed these days. While BMTH lead the genre, there are bands like Bad Llama that do it heavier, or Stray From the Path that add rap elements. There are a lot of bands doing this sound and unfortunately this may get lost in the pack a little bit.

Still, having said that, there are some great, enjoyable tracks on the album. ‘In the Silence’ and the lead single, ‘Guiding Light’ are both a lot of fun. And as an album, it’s very well put together and easy to listen to as a whole. If you like the genre you’ll probably love this, but I’m kinda burnt out by it at this point. 6.5/10

Phil Jamieson: Somebody Else

Charlotte: Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson has released his debut solo studio album Somebody Else, an album fuelled by nostalgic lyrics. Phil Jamieson combines alternative rock/pop riffs with that iconic 80s new-wave feel to create an album that may very well cement his sound as a solo artist. I struggled to get into it too much, though. 3/10

The Black Skeleton: The Rear View

Joe: The melodic rock band have released their much anticipated debut album. It’s a very interesting blend of styles, giving off vibes of The Cult, RHCP, Iggy Pop, Bowie and others, yet with a modern edge to it all too. The rock ‘n roll and punk elements match up perfectly with the catchy, huge choruses and hooking melodies. Heck, single ‘Swear’ channels grungy Alice in Chains energy in the best ways. And the slower stuff like the title track almost gives off Matchbox Twenty/Stone Temple Pilots vibes. ‘Puppy Run’ is a funky, jazzy masterpiece.

It’s so hard to pick just a couple of highlights off the album as it’s all so different and so good. The variety is amazing and made it such an easy listen. There’s something for everyone here, and the band definitely have a new fan in me. 9.5/10

Werewolves: My Enemies Look and Sound Like Me

Joe: This whole album is a wonderful slap in the face right from the first second. Opening into an evil fast riff complete with a blast beat, the death metal band aren’t fucking around. From then on, it’s heavy, thrashy goodness from start to finish. There is some slight variety; ‘Destroyer of Worlds’ is a Seasons in the Abyss style plodding track, yet is still insanely heavy. It’s my favourite track on the album as it is the most different one, the rest being all out death metal. It’s great, and if you’re into the genre you’ll surely love it. It did wear a little thin for me by the last few tracks, though. 7.5/10

Hail the Sun: Divine Inner Tension

Joe: Straight up, this album is amazing. It’s mathy, heavy and yet channels a lot of pop, punk and even desert rock energy as well. I remember checking out the latest Blood Command album last year (review here) and it’s very similar to that. However, I enjoyed this a lot more than that album. Right from the album opener and title track the band had me hooked and didn’t let go throughout.

Donovan Melero has such an interesting, phenomenal vocal range through both cleans and scream that is hard not to compare to Kellin Quinn. Meanwhile some of the riffs and lead runs from the duel guitarists are amazing. Tracks like the opener, ‘Chunker’ and ‘I Saw You Hanging’ are all massive highlights, but honestly the whole album is great. I can’t really pick any faults here. It’s a solid post-hardcore album and worth checking out by any even passing fans of the genre. 8.5/10