Tag Archives: reuben

Review: So-Crates’ v1

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So-Crates are a new project featuring members of Hold Your Horse Is and Reuben and if that doesn’t get your post hardcore senses tingling then you might need to see a doctor. v1 is the band’s first offering; a pay-what-you-want, 7 track mini album that is bursting with ideas.

The music on v1 is a pretty angular and progressive affair, but always fast and driving. Imagine At the Drive-In wrestling with Billy Talent and you’ll have a good grasp as to what So-Crates are aiming for. Despite the manic, almost nervous energy of the record, So-Crates are surprisingly tuneful with Robin Pearson’s half sung/half spoken vocals still being incredibly striking and unique.

What really adds some wonderful texture is the glittery lead guitar work by Toby Jackson. Despite the songs often being consumed by chunky bass-lines and furious punk rock drumming, the presence of Jackson’s leads means there’s always an earworm melody on display and it makes songs like Paused on a Crossfade really stand out. So-Crates are always mixing a wild and dangerous sound with extremely tuneful and welcoming melodies and it makes v1 a very unique record to listen to.

There is one obvious negative though; music of this energy could do with sounding weightier. The production work on v1 makes it sound more like a jangly indie rock record which seems at odds with how bat-shit crazy the songs are. So-Crates could really benefit from having their drums hit that little bit harder and their riffs need to carry a little more bass. It’s an adjustment that could have really set this record on fire, but it’s something we’ll have to hope the band addresses in future releases.

Overall, v1 is an accomplished and intense debut from an extremely exciting new band. If you’re a fan of post hardcore and math rock then you’ll find a lot to love here and despite some niggles regarding the production, the song-writing really does shine bright and offer a record that is greater than the sum of its parts.

8/10

So-Crates’ v1 is out now and available to download by clicking here.


Review: Press to Meco’s Good Intent

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We like Press to Meco. Their 2013 EP Affinity was our pick of the year and the tech-emo trio from Croydon really felt like they were destined for big things. Well, they were definitely destined for at least one big thing and it comes in the form of their absolutely anthemic debut album Good Intent.

Press to Meco have continued to get weirder and heavier and more tuneful for their debut album and it couldn’t be more welcome. The band are like a bizarre mash-up of Reuben and Periphery with all members of the band sharing vocal duties to create some wonderful, interweaving melodies that come together to force a massive hook right into your lugholes.

Musically, the band shift between chunky, groove-ridden tech metal and soaring post hardcore choruses with gleeful abandon. The band has inadvertently created some of the most approachable tech metal around and it’s thanks to their wonderful approach to song-writing. This means that even though a lot is happening in a single track, it ebbs and flows with a natural progression that is easy to follow without being bombarded with stylistic shifts and tempo changes.

The real jewel on Press to Meco’s crown is always their fantastic vocal melodies. Despite how heavy the music can get, the vocals hold everything together. The sugary vocal harmonies are fantastically dynamic and memorable and if you were given this record during your formative days with heavy music, songs like Family Ties, Means to an End and Manipulate would become defining songs of your youth. This is not to say that Press to Meco sound dated, just that if you were to introduce the younger generation to heavy music via this record then its approachable nature would start a new generation of heavy music fans for all the right reasons.

Another real draw on Good Intent is how it pops and fizzes with the sort of energy you’d get from a live recording. Unlike a lot of tech metal releases that favour hyper-defined, almost robot-like drum sounds, Good Intent is a thrashy, powerful record that lets the band’s performances shine. The guitar tones are full of grunt and the drums sound like they’re taking a monstrous beating. For a record loaded with uplifting emotion, it’s fantastic to hear a mix that doesn’t sound as sterile as some tech metal releases.

Press to Meco have delivered an album that showcases exactly what the trio are capable of. It’s a glorious, exciting monster of a record that is stuffed with technical wizardry and choruses so big that they deserve to be blasted across festival audiences all summer long.

9/10

Press to Meco’s Good Intent is released on the 16th of October through Best Before Records and can be pre-ordered via Pledge Music.


Review: I, The Lion’s Run

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I, The Lion’s Run EP took me by complete surprise. The EP has a rather weak opening during the first half of Hold Strong. It’s a pretty uneventful plod through all the clichés of modern emo, but half way through the song the band unleash a tirade of screaming and off-kilter guitar work and it’s absolutely exhilarating.

From here on, I, The Lion are a completely different beast who meld the alt-rock madness of bands like Reuben and Biffy Clyro with the emocore stylings of bands like A Day to Remember. The band’s music shifts and moves quite naturally considering the number of riffs and melodies the band pack into a single song. Speaking of riffs, there’s an absolutely mind-melting display near the end of Hold Strong and it’s accompanied by a tremolo-picked lead and it’s fucking sublime. Euphoric even.

Moving on, songs like Icarus start with a riff that could’ve been easily pulled from your favourite Reuben song before opening up into that angular, guitar noodling that Biffy are so famous for. Bolstered with some absolutely massive choruses, I, The Lion have nailed this rock music malarkey and despite the vocals often sitting in a comfortable mid range, the music is dynamic enough to help you ignore such discrepancies.

Listening to Run is a beautiful journey into the rock music of my youth. If this record was released when I was discovering Hundred Reasons, Hell is for Heroes and Funeral for a Friend for the first time, I’d happily regard it as a modern classic. Hopefully a new generation of rock kids discover this record and go on to regard it in the same light because it really deserves that sort of praise.

I, The Lion’s Run is a wonderful celebration of riff rock. It’s a gargantuan-sounding EP loaded with some of alt-rock’s most thunderous melodies and it constantly evolves and welcomes new ideas into it’s already accomplished sound. A lacklustre opening hides one of rock’s most enjoyable EPs and I, The Lion need to be a band you start paying immediate attention to.

9/10

I, The Lion’s Run EP is out now and is available to buy direct from the band.


Review: Hawk Eyes’ Everything is Fine

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It pains me to say it but Hawk Eyes have lost something on their latest record, Everything is Fine. The riff rockers have been riding a wave of success thanks to their wonderfully thick Engerica-meets-Reuben sound and their last EP, That’s What This Is showcased a more song-driven side to the band that seemed inevitable. It was energetic and exciting and I could hear the band lighting up rock radio up-and-down the country.

Sadly that song-driven style has been dropped on Everything is Fine and the whole record feels like a backwards step back into Modern Bodies territory. This is obviously not a huge issue because fans of that record will feel right at home thanks to the return of the dense, down-tuned and somewhat dark atmosphere that Modern Bodies is known for. That’s all here on Everything is Fine but listening to songs like Permission and Terribly Quelled sit side-by-side next to a re-recording of More Than a Million, which grabs you by the balls and doesn’t let go, makes it clearly apparent that a more direct and less progressive song structure does Hawk Eyes more favours than their moodier material.

The darker and more brooding tracks on Everything is Fine just feel lacking. While they certainly sound impressive on face value with their nasty, oozy guitars and dense production, the songs always lack a tasty hook or riff that could really push them to the next level. Tracks like The Ballad of Michael McGlue are bizarrely pedestrian listening experiences which is not something I ever thought I’d find myself saying about Hawk Eyes.

The weird thing is it’s apparent that this is still the same band. All the Hawk Eyes signatures are here; the riffs are heavy, the drums are thrashy and the vocals are a blend of raw barking and sung choruses. This is still the same Hawk Eyes you know and love but for whatever reason the songs on Everything is Fine simply drift on by without a riff or chorus barely managing to be as devastating or memorable as something like Witch Hunt or Skyspinners from Ideas.

Hawk Eyes have unfortunately made a slight miss-step on Everything is Fine. While the band’s satisfyingly thick riff-rock is still on show throughout the album, the meandering and broody nature of the music doesn’t accommodate memorable riffs and choruses. The absolute barnstormer that is More Than a Million proves exactly what most of Everything is Fine is missing; this album needs to spend more time getting to the point quicker and punctuating it with a catchy melody.

6/10

Hawk Eyes’ Everything is Fine is out now and available to buy direct from the band.


Review: Empress AD’s Still Life Moving Fast

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It’s so good seeing young bands signed to Roadrunner Records again and Empress AD are a perfect fit for the label’s roster. The band deal with the sort of thunderous, proggy, groove metal that bands like Mastodon deal with but they sprinkle their sound with an earnest and very British-sounding layer of alt rock which reminds us of bands like Reuben.

Empress AD have been honing their craft for quite some time and it really shows on Still Life Moving Fast. This record has a seriously accomplished sound that dives effortlessly in and out of massive riffs and slower, more contemplative moments of restraint. Empress AD make the quiet/loud dynamic sing on this record. The more reserved moments give way to some absolutely Earth-shattering grooves and the contrast makes their impact all the more powerful.

An album highlight comes in the form of Deeper in Disguise which bursts out the gates with a blistering riff before slowing down for a sombre moment. It isn’t long before the track once again bludgeons you with its Glassjaw-esque, post hardcore craziness. It’s a beautiful lesson in heaviness.

Things even manage to move into doom metal territory for the crawling, bass-heavy dirge of On My Return. This is the sort of groove that would make Black Sabbath jealous but it’s juxtaposed with a beautiful vocal melody by Ollie Loring before it opens up into a more spacey, desert rock sound. Empress AD have really packed a surprising amount of influences into these songs.

The only downside to Still Life Moving Fast is that it does get a little bogged down in its prog rock leanings. Some of the quieter moments meander around doing very little for far too long and it unnecessarily bloats the album. Delve into the Retrospect suffers from moments like these and it often feels like the band have extended the run time of the song for the sake of self-indulgence.

Regardless, Empress AD manage to hit a larger amount of highs than they do lows on Still Life Moving Fast. This is a wonderful prog metal album that is stuffed with interesting song structures that are also bolstered by some of the best riffs heavy music has to offer. This is an impressive beginning to what I hope is one of the UK’s brightest metal discographies.

8/10

Empress AD’s Still Life Moving Fast is out now and available to buy from Roadrunner Records.


Review: Cactus&Cardigan’s Highland Bastards

I like to think Cactus&Cardigan were born out of a frustration that the band members live in a town that is largely ignored by touring bands. Cactus&Cardigan hail from Thurso which is about as far north of Scotland you can go before having to get on a boat. If you’ve ever looked at the sort of cities that bands play when they tour Scotland you’ll often see shows in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. To give you an idea of just how awkward it is to go to a Scottish show if you live in Thurso then you’ll be driving 5 hours to get Glasgow. Yeah, that would annoy the piss out of me too.

So suitably Cactus&Cardigan have released an EP called Highland Bastards and they sound pretty pissed off. Their music can be described as a cross between Reuben’s heavier moments and Hawk Eyes’ Chickenhawk days. Another element that characterises Cactus&Cardigan’s sound is that their lyrics often deal with daft concepts like 80/20s predominate meatball theme. Yes, you read that correctly.

Despite the comedic nature of the lyrics, Cactus&Cardigan make an immensely satisfying racket. The band deal in big riffs and even bigger grooves and conquer their lack of vocal melody thanks to their brilliant song-writing. Screamer and guitarist Peter Bacon has an unnerving knack for writing huge riff after huge riff and it’s bolstered by an amazing performance by drummer Jack Macphee and some seriously thunderous bass-work from Marc Sutherland.

EP highlights come in the form of the title track (which is punctuated by an amazing solo from Bacon) and 80/20 which begins with a hook that reminded us of The Strokes’ Juicebox before unleashing an absolutely crushing riff.

Like Cactus&Cardigan’s previous EP Gag Reflex, the band clearly work well within their comfort zone but Highland Bastards manages to present the listener with 6 very different and very interesting songs. Take Neon Suplex for example; Cactus&Cardigan slow the tempo slightly and strip things back for a spoken introduction before the songs steps into gear. Explosions Implosions starts with an introduction that’s remarkably similar to Holy Mountains by System of a Down before it gives us a riff so terrifyingly massive it wouldn’t sound out of place on a doom release.

Cactus&Cardigan have put together an alternative rock/metal release that is never short on riffs. The songs are all enormous, groove-laden affairs that deserve to be heard outside of the band’s native Scotland. Heavy music needs bands like Cactus&Cardigan to remind us that heavy music doesn’t need to be overly technical to provide a satisfying impact and Highland Bastards is one of the best examples of this mantra we can think of.

9/10

Cactus&Cardigan’s Highland Bastards is released independently on May 26th. Keep an eye on the band’s Big Cartel for order links.


Review: Hawk Eyes’ That’s What This Is

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I think it’s safe to say that with ‘That’s What This Is’ Hawk Eyes have truly left behind the death grunge sound of their Chickenhawk days. ‘That’s What This Is’ continues in the same vein as last year’s ‘Ideas’ and sounds like an unruly mash-up of Pulled Apart By Horses and Reuben. Big riffs and even bigger choruses are the order of the day and it’s something that the band are becoming incredibly good at.

Hawk Eyes’ focus on melody is also heavily featured on ‘That’s What This Is’. Screamed vocals have been paired back considerably which allow for vocal melodies that sound like Foo Fighters in their prime. Songs like ‘Never Never, Just Not Now’ begin with the aforementioned Grohl-esque croon before unleashing one of the EP’s best riffs. Hawk Eyes have mastered the balance between neck-breaking riffage and stadium-sized choruses with finesse.

The real surprise is that Hawk Eyes have lost none of their bite with the increased focus on melody. This is not a sugary, over-processed sounding release at all. ‘That’s What This Is’ is a raw and dirty sounding release that keeps all the grunt and power in the guitar work as well as the absolutely visceral drumming.

Enough can’t be said about how impressive the drums are in particular as it’s about the closest thing to catching the sound of live drumming you can possibly get. The ring of a cymbal crash is always held too long and you can almost feel the force of the pounding that the kit is going through in your chest. Hawk Eyes understand that the appeal of riff-rock is not to hear it played with accuracy; you want to hear it played with passion and if that includes a few mistakes or a more rough-and-ready production style then I’m all for it.

‘That’s What This Is’ showcases Hawk Eyes on top form and songs like ‘More Than A Million’ are future festival anthems. It’s a shame the whole thing is over in under 15 minutes but if this is a taste of things to come then we cannot wait to see what their next album will hold.

8/10

Hawk Eyes’ That’s What This Is is out now and available to buy on CD direct from the band.


Review: Subset’s Loverdose

You know how you should never judge a book by its’ cover? Subset pretty much embody that entire phrase. As soon as I noticed this album was called Loverdose my emo alarm was going off at full tilt. During the album’s stripped-back introduction ‘In the Patient’s Waiting Room’ I was still pretty much ready for the whiny melodies to kick in as soon as the jangly guitar came to a halt.

What came next was something I was not prepared for. This is a punk rock album that incorporates so many different influences from across the heavy music spectrum that simply calling it a punk rock album is a bit of a disservice.

Subset make a racket that sounds like an ungodly marriage of Reuben, Scars on Broadway and The Cooper Temple Clause. Loverdose is an album of high octane rock that isn’t afraid to completely change its’ style as it sees fit.

Songs like Explode sound like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster having a drag rage, the title track is an almost twee little pop-punk number and then Walk Elephants turns up and channels Peter Steele and Type O Negative for some serious goth stomp.

The change in musical style is the most noticeable in the vocal department which changes from a hard rock grunt to sugary pop crooning and then the aforementioned Peter Steele impression. Subset manage to do all this and still manage to maximise on choruses which are nothing but monolithic throughout. There isn’t a song on this album that doesn’t contain a memorable chorus and it’s beautifully enjoyable for that reason.

The only problem with the diversity on Loverdose is that it does mean the album has a hard time finding a decent flow. The changes in style mean the album takes the form of something more akin to a singles collection. This is obviously not a deal breaker because hey, who doesn’t want a load of cracking singles, but it does make for a somewhat disjointed listening experience if you take it as an album.

Ignore the issue of flow and you have one of the most exciting and down-right inventive rock albums of the year. Subset are one of the most enjoyable and bizarre rock bands doing the rounds and missing this album would deprive you of one of the most creative rock albums in existence.

8/10

Subset’s Loverdose is available to purchase digitally direct from the band now.


News: Radio Alcatraz Reveal Details of New EP

Post hardcore mob Radio Alcatraz have revealed some details on their new EP It’s All Coming Up Roses!

The EP will include guest vocals from Anti Flag’s Justin Sane and ex-Reuben vocalist and guitarist Jamie Lenman.

Check out the full track-listing below:

1. Exchanging Hunting Tips With The Devil
2. Henry VIII
3. The Physical Effect
4. Collapse

You can also check out Radio Alcatraz’s The Physical Effect below. It’s a free download as well:


Review: Bloody Mammals’ Eventually Your House Will Burn Down

London four piece Bloody Mammals make an almighty racket fuelled by some amazing alt-rock riffage. The band sound like an amalgamation of early, experimental Biffy Clyro and Reuben’s heavier, progressive side. After a single and an EP, the band are putting forward their strongest material to date with the release of mini-album Eventually Your House Will Burn Down.

This 6 track post hardcore beast is fuelled by some of the most intense drumming put to record and some rather peculiarly memorable scream-along chorus’. Eventually Your House Will Burn Down is a challenging listen that worships the quiet/loud dynamic with stunning effect. For every amp-busting riff a more delicate section is always soon to follow. Bloody Mammals’ song-writing really excels in these moments as they never feel sudden and uncomfortable and genuinely flow quite naturally, guiding the listener through their multi-faceted sound.

Album highlights include opener This Neighbourhood is Cursed which showcases Bloody Mammals signature sound straight off the bat and The Tie-Down Team which is full of brilliant leads that add a catchy melody that stands out around the band’s almost mathcore leanings. At only 16 minutes in length, you’ll be exhausted by the end of the release as this 6 track mini-album packs in more ideas then some bands can manage for their entire career.

The only real let down is that some tracks tend to let the alternative part of the band’s sound take center stage when what Bloody Mammals really need is a big hook to sink your teeth into. Madam instantly springs to mind as the entire song lacks a catchy melody that would help the song stick in your head. The screamed vocals are delivered emphatically and almost save the song, but a bit more melody could have really set the song off.

But when Eventually Your House Will Burn Down draws to a close, these minor foibles are not what you’re going to remember it for. Bloody Mammals have presented us with a fascinating rock release that is equal parts punk, post hardcore and alt-rock. The band have absolutely stuffed this album with interesting ideas and it’s a real privilege to hear the whole thing unfold into one scruffy but brilliantly executed release.

8/10

Bloody Mammals’ Eventually Your House Will Burn Down is released on the 6th of May through Flatpack Recordings and 49s vs Dolphins.