Castaway/Statutes split review

SPLITCOVERAt the start of this week, a pair of Midlands based artists paired themselves up to release an EP done the old fashioned way – splitting their music across it. At six track long and not including covers of the others’ work, the bands would probably be more accurate to describe the self titled offering as a split mini album, but it’s all the more attention to both acts. Recorded and mixed by Ian Boult (Basement, xRepentancex) and mastered by Bob Cooper (Citizen, Nai Harvest, Self Defence Family), there’s a wealth of experience gone into the offering, and it pays off impressively well.

One of these acts is Nottingham’s own Castaway (who we previously checked out briefly at Notts Pop Punk Fest in January). Forming over a love for band such as Title Fight, Basement and Balance & Composure, the five piece released their debut EP, Bleak, at the end of last June on a pay what you want basis.

Though the band take the second half of the EP, the close of their final June 15th so smoothly matches the style of Statutes’ sound it would’ve seemed more logical to fit them that way round. However, the other two tracks provide a rough edge in the vocals to accompany the chunky, grungey riffs, especially in middle Milk. Barely over two minutes long, it’s a vicious blast that deserves nothing less than to be played at full volume.

On the other half of the EP come Statutes, a band who exist purely as a creative outlet for the members, and will, in their own words, “continue to perform and record to anyone willing to listen until the day real life catches up”. It’s an intriguing attitude to have in an industry so progress and money driven, and perhaps that’s what makes their music so emotive.

Taking the opening half of the EP for their own, Statutes create a sound that meets in the middle of La Dispute and flatsound, with a slightly harsher touch. Though the echoing vocals seem somewhat incongruous to the music which have the detail and emotion to survive well as purely instrumental, it’s an incongruity that forms a fresh sound. Think the poetic originality of a newly turned over rock.

The cover of the record seems to directly imitate American Football’s album cover, and there’s something to be said for similarities in the music, but to the core this is fresh, organic talent in the music and if anyone had dared consider that the grunge/emo DIY world were dying out, well, here’s proof against that.

Red Spektor – self titled review

RED1Today, Stoke-on-Trent based rockers Red Spektor released their debut self-titled EP, after spending their time since formation in 2012 honing the sound of their live show. It’s this live show that bagged them stage time with the likes of Carousel Vertigo, Attica Rage, Texas Flood, and Lawless, and a sound they’ve trapped into a five track offering; think a mix of psychedelic, classic and stoner rock, citing influences with the likes of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

You wouldn’t believe this is a debut EP; from the execution of the whole offering to the punchy attitude it accompanies, even a first listen can tell that the years they’ve spent refining the songs on stage have made them into a mean, lean, classic rock machine. The opening seconds of Earth Mother set them up for a massive achievement with riffs galore, and though you’d expect that they’d be setting themselves up for downfall after such a powerful commencement, you’d be wrong to think so.

In a helter skelter of psychedelic fizzle the EP storms on, accompanied with vocals that deserve nothing more than to be shouted across a stadium with an audience to reply with cheers. Rock ‘n’ roll how it was intended to sound, the EP is filled with guitar solos and unapologetic confidence, the sort of style that isn’t easily done well by new bands. If you fancy a trip back to the good ol’ days of rock ‘n’ roll, Red Spektor deliver an EP you’ll be foolish to miss.

wars – And So The Sea Will Claim Us All review

WARSThey only formed this year, last month they supported Bury Tomorrow, last week Metal Hammer streamed their debut EP, and today the band’s first five track offering, And So The Sea Will Claim Us All, is released. The Rugby quintet make rock music heavy with meaning; speaking of the release, vocalist Rob Vicars explains – ‘‘this EP is the most personal thing we as individuals have ever worked on, we’ve really poured everything into this release and I’m implausibly excited and proud to put it out there”.

There’s only a few seconds of subdued sound before Gamblers Ruin breaks open with harsh vocals and intense riffs. Clean vocals become overpowered by this musical weight, and for the first few minutes it feels like the band are trying to push out music that’s already been done too much into a packed genre. Come the track’s break down, of sorts, and the vocals take their own hold on the music with a splurge of originality. The intensity of the sound that closes the track mimic those in instrumental music, urging the song towards its close.

Harsh vocals relentlessly flood Eight On The Ballantine Scale, but again, it’s in the softer moments of the track that the band comes into their own. Unpredictable guitar punctuates the rougher sections of the track, and it’s clear that the vocals are laden with meaning throughout, but there are moments that sound just like wars are any other band.

If you want to see what the band are capable of at the optimum, turns your ears to the sparse and varied sound of closing 00:01. It might be a minute long, but it’s an apt closer and allows them to showcase that rock with meaning doesn’t have to be loud and filled with throat-aching lyrics.

Through the remaining tracks, the music swells and crashes – often in huge onslaughts of music – as the EP’s title would imply, but despite their passionate vocalisations, excellent production (courtesy of Matt O’Grady – Architects, You Me At Six, Bring Me The Horizon), and neat structure, there’s little that wars offer that isn’t already being done. Don’t get me wrong – the EP is strong, and they’ve an undeniable talent, but they’re squeezing themselves into a packed room and there’s little that would make me pick them out; I suspect in a few years they’ll pull me up and prove me wrong.

Introducing: We Three Kings

Today marks the release of a whole new kettle of fish from Nottingham’s bubbling music scene; forget the singer/songwriters and rock bands we so often praise the city for forging, allow me to introduce you to a folk pop trio. Despite only have formed in March of this year, the band are already releasing their debut EP, Are You Feeling The Same. The five track offering is unveiled today, alongside a three day celebration with Ellie-Mae Keegan (dates below).

Friday – The Flying Circus – Newark
Saturday – Waggon & Horses – Nottingham
Sunday – The Intake Mansfield

Citing influence from the likes of Coldplay, The Script and Queen, you can imagine the sort of engaging listen the work is, and with frontman Ant Macandrew’s captivating vocals, it’s all the more enjoyable. After the gentle opening of Fire In My Heart comes personal favourite off the release, subtle and alluring but determined My Eyes. With understated power, it propels the EP forward.

Piano lead and passionate title track Are You Feeling The Same follows, laying a gentle but imploring chorus by delicate instrumental. Whilst You Said shows how the trio come together to blend into a sublime combination of harmonies, melancholy and reflective closer Keep On Fighting shows the band’s Script influence through the careful storytelling.

Striking a niche in the Nottingham music scene, We Three Kings have executed a touching yet talented debut beyond the few months they’ve been together. Give them a shot – you might just fall in love with their sound.

Virtue In Vain – For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore review

VIRTUEINVAINFounded in 2012 and calling Cardiff home, metal four piece Virtue In Vain take today to release their debut EP, For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore. Since their formation, they’ve spent their time forging their live show, having shared stages with the likes of Napoleon, Dead Hrts and Astroid Boys among others. This seven track offering allows the quartet to show off that they’re as impressive in the studio as on stage, with the force of a ten tonne truck in every riff.

Though the aptly titled minutes long Prologue is an atmospheric one that sets the benchmark for the rest of the record, it’s not until five and a half minute Martyrs that much really kicks off. Cutting straight into riffs that earn their place throughout the EP, the music layers itself into a solid wall of music, with Hywel Thomas’ harsh vocals spattering across like an angsty teenager’s graffiti.

In Faith, In Ruin sees Thomas continue to belt out the vocals over impressively staccato percussion that only mounts tension as the energy continues to peak, with the riff heavy opening of Left Behind throbbing unapologetically. Not all heavy blast, a minimalistic breakdown kicks with shock as much as the rest of the track doesn’t with weight, before the sound is pulled up again, ligament by ligament.

Another hard hitting and destroying number, My Heart Is Bruised But Never Broken precedes a lull in the force with Relapse, a sub two minute gentle instrumental that seems incongruous sandwiched between such heavy songs. Winding up with another five and a half minute blast in the title track (which you can check out below), Virtue In Vain show that attention to detail in the instrumental is as vital to creating a stunning release as passionate vocal work.

Boasting riffs galore and itching with potential, Virtue In Vain have produced an EP that metalheads are sure to love.