Svalbard – One Day All This Will End, Album Review
This may be their debut album but you know you’re listening to a band already totally in control of their sound, elements of post-hardcore, post-rock, metal and doomier genres combine seemlesly with fantastic melodies and classic structres meant to draw you in. The result is a poweful and positive record which is easy to connect with and come back to.
A listen to the band’s earlier EPs reveals a leaning more towards post-hardcore, a route they could easily have gone down and still been a great band, but they have gradually edged into more interesting territory. So, by the time their split with Pariso came out last year, their sound was much more complex and rewarding and they were poised to hit us with this beautiful beast.
There was no doubt this record was going to be huge, but it is also dreamily epic and for such a heavy album, very uplifting. Take the opener, Perspective, the melody running underneath soars and takes you with it, all the while those aggressive vocals add edge. Mid-way a slower section reigns you back in before the build towards the horizon. Yes, yes yes.
Svalbard know how to work their listening audience, wringing out goosebumps and closed eyes and pounding fists. Disparity is richly layered and addictive, the kind of track you want to put on repeat. There are moments of post-rock beauty like measured and melancholy track The Vanishing Point and more straightforwardly hardcore moments like The Damage Done but all are bound in that unmistakable Svalbard feel. This is the record we’ve been hoping they would release and it doesn’t disappoint, put it on your christmas wishlist.
The record is out now through Holy Roar Records.
Employed To Serve, Greyer Than You Remember, Album Review
Holy Roar Records have released some great albums in the last few years and seem to have a knack for discovering great UK talent; Employed to Serve certainly fit well with their current roster which also includes Pariso, Svalbard and Rolo Tomassi amongst others.
Greyer Than You Remember is a dark ride; quirky, technical, hardcore with metallic riffage which thunders and squeals under Justine’s powerful screams. The sound is meaty and often verging on dischordant, not an easy listen then, but this isn’t pop music so you get what you signed up for, on balance it’s nasty and powerful but also full of surprises (in a good way).
For the most part the record is intense and relies heavily on technical riffage, each moment is packed with noise and lyrically it feels pretty bleak at times, the occasional foray into the epic and cinematic brings you out of the gloom though. Once such moment is Bones To Break, the pace is slowed and a warmer more dreamy guitar sound takes over, bringing an almost cinematic touch, what a great track.
This reprieve is brief however and we are soon blasted back into the fray with twanging power chords and the intensity of those in your face screams on the next track, the album rarely lets up on the frenetic pacing, but if you’re in the right frame of mind its an intoxicating and addictive blend of nastiness. It’s been a while since I heard anything this intense and its reminded me how liberating heavy music can be.
The album finishes on another of those epic notes with As Cold As The Rest bringng back the widescreen feel with some restrained guitar work, spoken word vocals and what sounds like rain or static in the background, again it works as a great counterpoint to the downtuned crunchiness of the rest of the track and makes you wonder where they might be headed on future releases, I’m sold. Employed to Serve’s debut album is released on 25th May on Holy Roar Records.
Ohhms – Bloom Album Review
Kent doom/prog five piece unleash two epic length tracks on their new record to be released on 6th October via Holy Roar records. The mix of genres on the record is interesting; often this kind of post-metal is epic and doom laden of course, but UK mob Ohhms obviously have an eclectic mix of influences, as they also drop in anything from classic rock to prog, making it feel very British.
Bad Seed is the opener, hints of classic rock and Prog, in the guitar work, add texture to eighteen minutes of rumbling, heady riffage and rough, very down to earth vocals. The start of this opening tune has a repeated lyric, “I’m not playing with you”, whether intentionally or not, it brings to mind Fugazi’s Blueprint and had me temporarily distracted listening to that – oops. The track takes its time, not building as such but steadily hypnotising you, it was in the last 6 minutes that it really hooked me in though; a change of pace bringing something far more delicate, the drums are complex and controlled and the tune becomes something else entirely – a beautiful come down – it takes its time to gently pull things to a close and leaves you with a distorted rumble from the guitar. Rise of the Herbivore carries over this rumble, adding a sparing, off kilter beat and then a ringing riff. This tune is the winner, a more doom-laden mood falls and takes you somewhere else, in turns dreamy and intensely dark.
The vocals are the wild card on the record to some extent, in this Ohhms can be likened to Isis, especially in their early days, where you either loved or hated the gruff, verging on tuneless shout amongst the beautifuly nasty tunes – in Ohhms case the more varied mix of genres makes the vocals an easier blend, for those with sensitive ears. Some interesting ideas and a heady mix of genres make this an album worth checking out for post-metal and doom fans.
Up River – Undertow Album Review
The first thing you notice about this new record from Brighton post-hardcore four piece Up River is the excellent production, it brings out every nuance, making for a crunchy and raw sound but it also makes the record sound huge rather than minimal – it’s spot on. Honestly I wasn’t sure what to expect from the cover art, but as soon as you put the album on you are hit with the rich guitars pumping out hooky riffage and emotive yet controlled vocal screams – this is hardcore done very well and it makes you remember what you love about it.
At under 20 minutes the eight tracks zip past in a heady blur, leaving you wanting more, but there seems to be something new every time you listen to those miniature epics. Happily there aren’t any off moments (there’s hardly time for that) but special mention to opening track Youth which sets the mood nicely with echo-bathed riffs and angst-filled vocals. The album as a whole has a lovely richness to it that has you immediately invested. Growing Pains is another corker – perfectly describing in words and sounds the painful isolation of trying to figure out your place in the world. The almost melodic The Weight also makes an impression – dark and moody but instant and memorable and Confide swings between meaty and delicate in its execution; dreamy sections entwined with bits you can go nuts to – very well judged.
This is a satisfying album; an addictive combination of angst and fantastic riffs and vocals makes it easy to recommend it for fans of Touché Amoré and Goodtime Boys. Undertow was released on 28th April through Independent label Holy Roar Records, find out more here.