Screech Bats—Wish You Were Her (2018) EP

Screech Bats—Wish You Were Her (2018) EP

Screech Bats—Wish You Were Her (2018) EP

Details

Recorded in a Blackpool rehearsal room by James Routh of Sonic Boom Six. Cover art by Esme Baker (vocalists, tattooist and owner of Boileroom Tatoo in Guildford, Surrey). Released on 30 March 2018.

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Band

  • Esme Baker—Vocals
  • Kit Reeve—Guitar
  • Rio Hellyer—Bass
  • Lexi Clark—Drums

Tracks

  1. Blood in my hair
  2. Get better
  3. Every good thing
  4. Just like you
  5. That valentine song

Review

Friday 30 March saw the release of this fabulously titled second EP from London four-piece punk band Screech Bats: Wish You Were Her. It sounds rather fabulous too.

According to vocalist Esme Baker, the EP is “about women who have, for entirely different reasons, had a profound impact on my life, but are no longer in it. Most of the lyrics are drawn from real experiences and on the whole we want to make dark, often ‘taboo’ topics, approachable with a positive message.”

Four women standing in front of a wall of comics

Screech Bats (Photo by Tom Le Bon)

Blood in my hair” (track 1) kicks off the EP with an abrupt and surprisingly metal bang! Four bars of staccato  chords and a ticking hi-hat give way suddenly to a pulsing, melodic punk song. The song has a simple stripped back and warm sound. Baker’s alto vocals are clear, pushing a little to distortion at times and to good effect; I could listen to her voice for hours.

Get better” (track 2) rides on a memorable riff that gets stuck in your head, while the lyrics tell a story in that most perfect of punk traditions and a fabulous singalong chorus “Since you’ve been gone I’ve been down so low / Ohhhhh / Are you better than this? / Since you’ve been gone I don’t know who I am / I’ll be better!” And yet it can’t really get any better than this—this is a perfect pop punk song. It has melody, it has energy, it has emotion.

Every good thing” (track 3) is built on a cyclical Husker Dü/Bob Mould-style arpeggio that repeatedly builds and resolves, creating expectation and tension before morphing into a start-and-stop coda. It’s such a good song. I should feel guilty, but I’m not.

Just like you” (track 4) opens with a double-stop bass riff that is soon joined by a jangly guitar and double bass. Baker’s vocals are so smooth as she sings “Hello honey how your face has changed | You used to be so pretty…” The off-beat rhythm changes about halfway through and you can’t but bounce along to the song. And then… it twists again towards a sudden ending.

“My lover hates me and I don’t mind,” Baker laments at the start of “That valentine song” (track 5). It’s a relatively straightforward and simple song to bring the EP to a close. Just as it looks like it’s not going anywhere Kit Reeve launches into a majestic and rather beautiful guitar solo. It completely lifts the song and transforms it into something quite gorgeous. My only complaint: the metal-tastic chugging that leads the song out could have lasted a lot longer than three seconds!

Conclusion

This is a gorgeous EP. Five perfectly crafted pop-punk songs that balance melody with raw energy. Esme Baker has a gorgeous voice and writes fabulously dark and real lyrics that address issues of mental health and recovery, death, grief, one night stands, ageing, settling down and learning how and when to end a relationship. This is a band that sounds fresh and relevant.

Review score: 95%

# meToo

In the promo material that accompanied this release I was saddened to read the following:

As an act devoid of male members, Screech Bats openly recount many instances of their gender standing front and centre stage: “It’s awful – we are not a ‘girl band’ just because none of us have penises. We have been heckled, we’ve been asked “whose girlfriends we are?”, we’ve been groped whilst trying to load in amps and at one particular show, when our bassist was moving her gear, someone shouted “the stripper’s arrived”. In our opinion, the whole industry needs to stop seeing gender as a genre – we need to see a shift towards just listening to the music, not having to consider what it is we have between our legs.”

I quite agree. Gender isn’t a genre. Listen to the music, judge the band on the music not on their chromosomes—and if you don’t like it then don’t listen to it, and if you do then tell others about them.

It saddens me to hear about how many people have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted. Please look out for one another—help keep those around you safe, and more importantly, treat everyone you meet with the respect you would want them to offer you. We’re all in this life thing together. I just hope we can get better at that. Speaking of getting better…

Video

Disclaimer

I kindly received this EP to review from Inception Press, an artist-friendly, UK-based, independent, alternative music publicity and management agency. I didn’t get paid for this review but I do get to the keep the EP. I am not linked to either Screech Bats or Inception Press.

PREVIEW: Klogr—Keystone (2017)

Klogr—Keystone (2017)

Klogr—Keystone (2017)

About

KLOGR release their third studio album ‘Keystone’ (mixed by Grammy winning producer David Bottrill (Stone Sour, Muse, Rush, Tool and more) on Friday 6 October 2017 via Zeta Factory (distributed in the UK/Europe by PHD).

The artwork is a piece of a painting by renowned Italian artist, Andrea Saltini.

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Band

  • Gabriele “Rusty” Rustichelli—Vocals/Guitar
  • Pietro Quilichini “PQ”—Guitar/Backing Vocals
  • Roberto Galli—Bass
  • Maicol Morgotti—Drums

Tracks

  1. Sleeping through the seasons
  2. Prison of light
  3. Technocracy
  4. The echoes of sin
  5. Pride before the fall
  6. Something’s in the air
  7. Drag you back
  8. Sirens’ song
  9. Dark tides
  10. Silent witness
  11. Enigmatic smile
  12. The wall of illusion

Review

Keystone is the third album from Italian-American band Klogr (pronounced Kay-logger). A band that I’d never heard of until now, but isn’t that the joy of this project.

Musically, the band sits somewhere between alternative rock and alternative metal. The album is very nicely produced and mixed. It has a warm, full sound that suits the melodic arrangements. The guitars are heavy without sounding harsh.

When you listen to album for the first few listens, if you’re anything like me then you’ll try to reach for comparisons. The album reminds me in part of Stone Sour fused with Freak Kitchen with a little Seven7 thrown in for good measure.

The album opens with what sounds like the start of the Star Trek theme tune, but accompanied by a children’s plinky piano. (“Sleeping through the seasons”, track 1) Then the guitars introduce a chug-chug-chug-chug riff. It’s catchy and melodic.

And so the album continues. “Prison of light” (track 2) features a nice ascending riff; “Technocracy” (track 3) is a fast-paced track with a twisting-turning riff; “The echoes of sin” (track 4) has a Dream Theater vibe to it; “Pride before the fall” (track 5) sounds a bit like a slowed-down “Technocracy”.

For me, the stand-out track is “Something’s in the air” (track 6). It’s a mid-paced, chugging rock track with a beautifully heavy, slide-y riff. I could listen to it all day. It’s heavy, it’s melodic, it’s interesting and varied. Brilliant stuff!

Klogr lurking in the shadows

Klogr lurking in the shadows

“Drag you back” (track 7) is built around a fluttering riff; “Sirens’ song” (track 8) is a short track that sounds like it was recorded underwater, and leads beautifully into “Dark tides” (track 9) which has an ’80s metal ballad feel to it.

“Silent witness” (track 10) opens with a bass riff that gives way to a complex guitar riff, that changes directions. Every. Few seconds. “Enigmatic smile” probably has the most metal riff on the album but gives way to a melodic rock track.

The album plays out to “The wall of illusion” which probably encompasses everything that Klogr have thrown at us so far in this album.

And then it ends.

Quite abruptly.

Conclusion

To be honest, there is little to criticize the album for. Some of the songs do begin to sound a little bit same-y as you progress through the album, but that would only really become a problem if the songs weren’t great. And these are really good songs. There is more than a little prog influence contained in the tracks on this album, and that is also a good thing. The songs have dynamics, and a shape, that each tell a musical story.

I really like this album. I can see myself returning to it again and again.

What more could you ask for from a piece of music?

Review score: 85%

PREVIEW: Death Blooms—Death Blooms EP (2017)

Death Blooms—Death Blooms (2017)

Death Blooms—Death Blooms (2017)

Details

Recorded at Red City Recordings, Manchester by producer and mix engineer David Radahd-Jones, Death Blooms’ self-titled debut EP is released Friday 12 May 2017.

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Band

  • Paul Barrow—Vocals
  • Ad Lucas—Guitar
  • Ben Grimsley—Bass
  • Mel Stewart—Drums

Tracks

  1. Hate:Die
  2. Last ones
  3. I’m dead
  4. Sick

Review

Death Blooms are a new alternative metal band on the UK scene, hailing from Manchester and Liverpool in the north-west of England. This is their debut EP and it’s really rather good.

Death Blooms (band)

Death Blooms (band)

That old adage “always leave them wanting more” is certainly true for this self-released EP (launched on Friday 12 May 2017). By the end of this four track recording I felt quite disappointed that there wasn’t more.

Musically, Death Blooms have a very modern metal sound. Vocalist Paul Barrow offers a gruff hardcore/metalcore vocal that isn’t afraid of softening a little to carve out some beautiful melodies, accompanied by a very competent-sounding band.

The EP opens with an in-your-face, punchy little number with the cheerful title of “Hate:Die” (track 1).  From the very first note, vocals are screaming, guitars are riffing, drums pounding. It’s certainly a bold entrance and one that initially took me a little by surprise and somewhat off-putting.

But that initial explosion, is immediately responded with an almost-whispered response, “then hate, then die, then hate, then die” that reminded in some part of—of all things—”What makes you tick” by Terrorvision. About a minute in, the chorus reveals a melodic core. It’s a classic combination: hard exterior, soft centre.

“Last ones” (track 2) retains the urgency but softens things just a little with a little less brutal opening. The riff is more melodic, as is the chorus (“If the skies should fall, we’ll be the last ones standing”). The band thumps around, throwing in a few interesting twists and turns and some colossal sounding riffs.

“I’m dead” (track 3)—see the video below—returns to the same song structure as the EP opener with the vocals leading from the go, like Hatebreed’s “Straight to your face” does. The song gallops through a solid riff, gruff vocals throughout, until a slightly more melodic middle-eight sung in chorus leads the song to a stomping conclusion.

EP closer “Sick” (track 4) begins with a complex guitar riff that weaves itself through the drums and screaming vocals. By now, Death Blooms have already revealed their hand and so the song structure and song textures are quite predictable: bouncy, shouting vocals broken up with more melodic, multi-voice choruses.

And then it suddenly goes quiet and it feels somewhat unfinished… always leave them wanting more, right? And that’s a good thing.

Conclusion

There is a vitality, a freshness and a sense of urgency about Death Blooms’ music that I really like. It’s exciting to hear such good quality British metal being created and exciting that such music can be released independently and still distributed widely.

While the four songs don’t stray too far from the same hardcore/metalcore/alt-metal formulas, it’s a solid approach and it still sounds fresh and relevant. I’d love to hear a full-length album to hear where else Death Blooms could take their sound, and what else they could achieve.

As it is, I’m perfectly happy with this EP. It’s a great start. I can only wish the band well in the future. Definitely a band to listen out for and look out for—they’ve already been seen live alongside Skindred and Raging Speedhorn.

Review score: 80%

Video

Disclosure

Stampede Press UK contacted me inviting me to preview Death Blooms’ forthcoming EP, which I was delighted about.

I have no connections to either Stampede Press UK or Death Blooms. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool.

Many thanks to Rob from Stampede Press UK, and to Paul, Ad, Ben and Mel for continuing to create fresh, interesting metal in the UK.

Sights & Sounds—Monolith (2009)

Sights & Sounds—Monolith (2009)

Sights & Sounds—Monolith (2009)

Details

Produced, engineered, and mixed by Devin Townsend at the Devestate. Assisted by Mike St-Jean. Drums recorded at the Wharehouse, engineered by Dean Maher. Manufacturered and marketed by Distort Inc./United by Fate Records. Released in 2009.

Band

  • Andrew Neufeld: Vocals, guitars, keys
  • Adrian Mottram: Guitar, pads, vocals
  • Matthew Howes: Bass, vocals
  • Joel Neufeld: Drums, percussion

Tracks

  1. Sorrows
  2. Shudder, St Kilda
  3. Storm & the sun
  4. The clutter
  5. Neighbours
  6. The furthest truth
  7. Pedal against the wind
  8. Night train
  9. Reconcile
  10. Borderlines
  11. Subtle, severe
  12. Sorrows II
  13. Pillars

Review

Canadian rock band Sights & Sounds is made up of members of four other Canadian bands: Comeback Kid, Figure Four, Sick City and The Getaway, and I just can’t get enough of this album. I’ve been playing it on loop all week: on my PC, at work, in the car, when taking a walk at lunchtime listening on my phone.

Strictly speaking Sights & Sounds aren’t metal — they’re about as metal as Def Leppard — but they are a part of this project so they’re staying in.

One review I read of them described them as “a blend of rock, punk and pop”, another described their songs as “a collection of intricate songs that straddles the line between sonically massive and a beautiful experiment in textured sounds.” [1] Guitarist Adrian Mottram in an interview in 2009 summed up their (then-current) influences as being as diverse as Dinosaur Jr, Greg Dulli, Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Mew [2]. Sounds good to me.

The album opens with a very simple chord progression played on piano, which reminded me very much of Anthrax’s “I’m Alive” from their latest album Worship Music as it builds until the rest of the band explode into the song. The rest of the album follows in a similar, thoughtful vein. There is a depth to the songs. They are allowed to breathe and move and develop quite naturally. One minute they sound fragile and delicate, the next powerful and anthemic.

Conclusion

There really isn’t a song amongst this collection that doesn’t speak to me on one level or another. Producer Devin Townsend has done a sterling job capturing something of the essence of this band. There is an energy and excitement about it. Brilliant. I can see this being a favourite album of mine for some time to come. Quite unexpected, but very much welcomed.

When is their next album coming out?

Review score: 98%

Video

Official video for ‘Reconcile’.

Official video for ‘Borderlines’.