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.

Thuum—Through Smoke, Comes Fire EP (2018) PREVIEW

Thuum—Through Smoke, Comes Fire EP (2018)

Thuum—Through Smoke, Comes Fire EP (2018)

Details

Self-released. Release date Monday 19 February 2018

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Band

  • Bear—Guitars and vocals
  • Andy—Guitar
  • Luke—Bass
  • Joe—Drums

Tracks

  1. Intro (instrumental)
  2. Worthless
  3. Hafgufa
  4. Through smoke, comes fire

Review

Hailing from Bournemouth, at the south end of the island, crawls Thuum with their debut EP Through Smoke, Comes Fire and it is colossal. This is already promising to be the heaviest release of 2018.

Black and white photo of the band standing in front of a stage

Thuum—They’re heavier than they look

Thuum are firmly lodged in the doom, sludge, southern-groove genre and they own it. Within four tracks Thuum manage to say more and generate more excitement than many bands with two or three times as many tracks.

Intro (instrumental)” (track 1) opens gradually, a fade up from silence. A quiet drone and a primitive-sounding chant, overplayed by a bell-like, heavily-reverbed guitar punching out a melody. And then the granite-crushing power of the track truly unleashes. It is slow and grinding but damn is it heavy and beautiful.

Worthless” (track 2) is a powerhouse of southern-infused sludge metal. Slowly meandering, bass-heavy riffs and sorrowful guitar solos provide a perfect background to Bear’s growling vocals. If you’re a fan of Down and Corrosion of Conformity you will not be disappointed. They’re like a fusion of Down and Mastodon—Mastodown, if you will.

Hafgufa” (track 3) begins with a blast of drums. then the pace is quickened for a song that winds itself around a simple, bouncing riff, that starts and stops, but never stops its unrelenting pace and heaviness. The song is cut in two with another lamenting guitar solo. “Can you hear me shouting out his name?” Bear yells—it’s reminiscent of Mastodon’s Troy Sanders. It may be the shortest song on the EP but it sure as hell packs a punch.

Through smoke, comes fire” (track 4). The title track. Another drums opening, which feels like a gentle nod of the head to Bonham’s drum sound in Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks”. A ponderous, bass-heavy riff builds and layers for a minute until it breaks down into an ascending, walking riff. This is truly majestic. A fusion of influences, progressive and doom, always heavy but never indulgent or aggressive. Then vocals, both growling and howling. It reminded me a lot of Mastodon’s album Leviathan. The tracks meanders through a melodic, harmonic progression to a gentle conclusion.

Conclusion

Wow! This is a near-perfect debut EP. I truly hope Thuum get the attention they deserve. This is precision crafted doom/sludge metal from the deep south (of England). I want to hear more. If through smoke, comes fire, I want to see what truly happens when the fire takes hold. Definitely a band to take notice of and follow over the next few years.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m going to give this 24 minutes 39 seconds offering another spin.

Review score: 98%

Disclaimer

Stampede Press UK contacted me a few weeks back, inviting me to preview this EP.

I have no connections to either Stampede Press UK or Thuum. 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 Thuum.

BONUS: Stone Sour—Creeping Death (2015)

So many good tracks have come out recently…

Another one from the recent Record Store Day, Stone Sour released a five track EP, Meanwhile In Burbank…, featuring this song “Creeping Death”, originally recorded by Metallica, from Ride the Lightning (1984).

It is reportedly going to be made available shortly as a digital download. Followed shortly by two more five-track EPs.

Haar—Haar EP (2010)

Haar—2010 EP (2010)

Haar—2010 EP (2010)

Details

Recorded at Arcadia Audio, Edinburgh in March 2010. Self-released EP.

http://haar.bandcamp.com/

Band

  • Gareth—Vocals
  • Chris Blom—Guitars
  • Guillaume Martin—Guitars
  • Steve—Bass
  • Hamish MacKintosh—Drums

(Band line-up according to Encyclopedia Metallum. No information on the EP itself.)

Tracks

  1. Whisper serenities eve
  2. To forgive an enemy
  3. Without form or void

Review

After two or three listens to this EP, I chose instead to listen to Guns N’ Roses—Chinese Democracy (2008). I guess that has to tell you something about my experience of listening to this album.

I really wanted to like this album. They are Scottish, for a start; hailing from Edinburgh, the city of my birth. Their lead singer is called Gareth. Their name is ‘Haar’, which is an east-coast Scots and Northern English word for coastal fog. What could possibly go wrong?!

I just didn’t connect with this album. I listened to it first a couple of months ago: popped it into a CD player, lay back on my bed in the dark and… suffered. Actually, that’s a bit harsh, but I didn’t give it a second listen until this week.

To be fair, it wasn’t as bad as I had remembered. (That’s not a glowing review really, is it?)

Let’s get one thing out of the way, to begin with: the production on this EP isn’t great. But then I wouldn’t really expect it to be on what I assume is a self-financed, independent release. The drums and vocals in particular sound… distant. It sounds like it was recorded in a hurry, in a church hall. I can accept that. I wouldn’t mark it down on that, to be honest. It is what it is, and it’s still better quality than many of the tape-of-a-tape-of-a-tape hand-me-downs of metal albums that I listened to back in the mid- to late-80s.

The artwork I really like. You can tell immediately that this band has a foot in the black metal camp because the band logo is veering towards unreadable. That seems to be an obligatory requirement of black metal bands. But then the progressive element claws it back towards readable. The EP cover has a mysterious, creepy, smokey/dare I say ‘haar-y’ feel to it. It’s black and white and simple all over. I like it.

So… the music. I described an album a couple of weeks ago as being perfect as background noise. I found this to be similar, but mainly because it didn’t hold my attention for long enough. The three songs on this EP are long (all over seven minutes, two over nine), and atmospheric with meandering twists and turns. I suspect that they are too long, though. “Without form…”, indeed.

This is impressionist metal, without clarity or detail. I can appreciate why some people might like it. Sadly, though it just didn’t move me. It never captured my imagination. Didn’t get my heart racing, or my mind engaged with…

Sorry, I just got distracted there checking my email. It was a bit like that really.

Conclusion

I really wanted to like it, being a home team and all. I do appreciate what they were trying to do. It just didn’t connect with me. Sorry guys!

Review score: 40%

27 / Twin Zero—27:00 (2005)

27/:TwinZero—27:00 (2005)

27/TwinZero—27:00 (2005)

Details

27: Songs written and recorded, May 2005 at The Garment District. Twin Zero: “In Sha’ Allah” recorded at Rainstick Studios, Nottingham; “Monolith (Reprise)” recorded at The Distraction Room @ Zi Studios, Nottingham. 27/Twin Zero: Sampled elements from tracks 1-4 by 27 and TwinZero. Remix and additional guitar: Reuben Gotto. Mastered at Ideal Mastering, London.

Bands

27:

  • Maria Christoper—Vocals, guitars
  • Neil Coulon—Drums, clarinet
  • Ayal Naor—Baritone guitar, samplers

Twin Zero:

  • Karl Middleton—Vocals
  • Bing Garcia—Guitar
  • Dave Cheeseman—Keyboards
  • Reuben Gotto—Guitar
  • Anf Morfitt—Bass
  • Si Hutchby—Drums

Tracks

  1. 27—Half Life (Half)
  2. 27—Downfall of the upright
  3. Twin Zero—In Sha’ Allah
  4. Twin Zero—Monolith (Reprise)
  5. 27/Twin Zero—0027

Review

27 are an American indie / lo-fi rock band from Cambridge/Boston, Massachusetts, Twin Zero are a British prog rock band from I guess in or near Nottingham in the UK. This EP it seems came about following a tour that the two bands shared in 2005.

The EP features two tracks by each band followed by a final track created from samples of the previous four songs by Reuben Gotto (Guitarist with Twin Zero). Two bands, 27 and Twin Zero (00), release a 27 minutes’ long EP called… wait for it… ’27:00′. See what they did there?

The EP opens with a very fragile song “Half Life” by 27Maria Christoper has a beautifully  delicate voice which put me in mind of Björk (without the craziness) and Melissa auf der Maur (MadM). Their second song, “The Downfall of the Upright” is a little rockier with a very simple but catchy bass riff. This definitely put me in mind of MadM’s first solo album.

British progists Twin Zero‘s first song “In Sha’ Allah” begins with a delicately picked acoustic riff in front of a chorus of voices. The vibe of the song put me in mind of Missouri-based band Less (one of my favourite internet musical finds).The sound, however, reminds me of something from Alice in Chains’ acoustic EPs Sap (1992) or Jar of Flies (1994). Their second song “Monolith (Reprise)” is more a laid back, piano led offering that kicks up a bit of a pace about halfway through. Think lo-hi Spiritualized and you’ve more or less got it.

The final track is a fusion of the previous four tracks on the EP. It’s very well done, so much so that it took me about five or six listens through to realise what they had done. As a whole the track reminds me in places of Nine Inch Nails.

Conclusion

This is yet another CD in this project that I really like. It contains what sounds like a fusion of a few of my favourite bands but also manages to retain its own identity. What could have made this release better is simply it being longer.

Review score: 90%

Video

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwaL4xvjzYQ&feature=share&list=PL7814706B4ACFCCCA%5D