Category Archives: EP Reviews

VICTORY LANE – ‘Barebones’

(Standby Records)

Victory Lane EP Cover


Last year, four-piece Victory Lane impressed critics and fans alike with their debut EP, ‘Louder Than Words‘, which was an effective showcase for the band’s fresh take on the pop-punk genre.

With that already under their belts, the rapidly-rising collective have now unveiled ‘Barebones’, its eagerly-anticipated follow-up.

Comprising of six tracks, the quartet recorded the new offering under the guidance of esteemed producer Romesh Dodangoda, who has worked in the past with the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and Don Broco.

Just Personal‘ opens proceedings by consistently being catchy, highly-energetic, and upbeat. At times, the sound can be rather generic, but it is a real toe-tapper, and certainly does its job of hooking the listener in.

Following track ‘Life Past 98‘ pretty much follows in the same sonic vein, at least to begin with.

However, the vocal delivery of frontman Dan Lamb is evidently more heartfelt, and he does a fantastic job of conveying the deeply personal and emotional lyrical subject matter of his father passing away when Dan was just a teenager, and what he felt over what undoubtedly was a very traumatic period.

As the song progresses, the tempo lowers significantly, with the guitar riffs becoming heavier yet slower-paced, and the drum beats becoming louder yet gentler at the same time.

Another highlight of the EP is provided by fourth number ‘Happy Sad‘, which with a sound that switches effortlessly between jolly and something altogether more sombre, as well as lyrics which deal frankly with Dan being in a state of emotional limbo, brought on by a reliance on anti-depressants, is a true reflection of how the four-piece are maturing, both musically and as human beings.

Overall, ‘Barebones‘ initially comes across as an average pop-punk release, but as things move forward, the band are able to draw the listener in with a well-crafted combination of songs that will leave them feeling a whole range of emotions.

TOP TRACK: ‘Life Past 98’




REAWAKEN – ‘monochrome’

Reawaken EP Cover


Reawaken are a Southampton-based, five-piece alternative rock band made up of Meg Parkinson on lead vocals, Matt Gregory on guitar, Nathan Page on guitar/backing Vocals, Joe Fraser on bass, and Gill Lancashire on Drums.

They take influence from the likes of Halestorm, Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry,  and Stone Broken, and today, I’ll be reviewing their debut EP, ‘monochrome’.

‘Don’t Run’ opens with blaring guitars and some hefty drums, supported by some amazing vocals from Meg Parkinson, honestly, less than a minute in and I’m rapt. This song is engaging and powerful, and as the first song I’ve heard from them, it does the job of converting me into a fan.

I mentioned it before, but seriously, the vocals in this track are something else, and all propped up by some top-notch playing from everyone in the band, it’s truly a streamlined track that shows off the best of Reawaken.

‘Black Tears’ has a much softer intro, and after the explosive opener, it’s a nice change, but while slower and softer, this track is just as powerful, resonate and emotional. This gives Parkinson a chance to show off another side of her voice, and she really knocks it out of the park with this track, and I really can’t wait to hear more from this band.

‘C.R.A.W.L’ changes the game again, with bouncing, shredding guitars that are just a treat to listen to, light percussion layered on top, with both of them giving way to Parkinson’s vocals, and then the band build on top of them again.

This track really demonstrates the co-operation between the various elements of the band, and their skills, because each element is impressive on its own, but when they come together, they produce something better.

‘I’m Gone’ is the final track on the EP, and it slows things down again, the soft melody of Parkinson’s voice really gets you in this track, especially when backed up perfectly by a soft, acoustic guitar.

As well as being a fiercely emotive track, this one also has a really nice beat to it, it claws its way into you head and doesn’t give up its spot easily, it is truly a spectacular end of what is a very strong EP.

TOP TRACK: ‘Black Tears’





ME & MUNICH – ‘Knives Of The Sun’


Me & Munich EP Cover


Earlier this year, experienced musicians Jan Petersen and Marco BØgehØj decided to further develop the melodic noise rock sound that has already given them much success in their native Denmark, and ‘Knives Of The Sun’, the duo’s debut release as Me & Munich, is the result.

While the sound remains relatively melodic, energetic, and uncomplicated, it is clear throughout the five tracks that a few tweaks have been made, for example, the two-piece have taken a fresher approach towards their songwriting, and are better able to combine elements of post-rock, noise rock, and ambient rock to create tunes that are more cohesive, atmospheric, and better guaranteed to get the toes tapping.

These are ably aided by a vocal delivery that is a clearer representation of the lyrical content, dealing with the complexities of the human psyche, and can also compliment the musical compositions with further ease.

All in all, ‘Knives Of The Sun’ is not the perfect EP, however, it provides a more effective showcase of how Jan and Marco have matured as musicians and songwriters since their last release, and it will be interesting to see where they go next.

TOP TRACK: ‘Knives Of The Sun’


Me & Munich band photo




CONCRETE KINGDOMS – ‘Concrete Kingdoms’


Concrete Kingdoms EP Cover


Having had to take a break last year, Scottish hard rock quintet Concrete Kingdoms are now back, bigger, better, and stronger than before with their self-titled debut EP.

The new release comprises of four tracks, all of which provide firm evidence that the band, this time, have opted for a sound that is altogether more powerful and better developed.

For example, there is more of an even balance between the immersing guitar riffs and a melodic vocal delivery that can really reach the higher notes.

This combination moves along at a nice pace, enabling the lyrical content, which is grounded in issues that everybody has had or will have to face at some point in their lives, to be clearly heard, and not be dwarfed by the music, which a few outfits similar to these guys tend to do at times.

Overall, ‘Concrete Kingdoms’ is a solid offering that should appeal, with its good old-fashioned, proper hard rock, to a diverse range of the genre’s devotees, and also should enable the five-piece to keep going the momentum that they have been spending the past few years building up.


TOP TRACK: ‘Time To Play’





(Tonotopic Records)

Kings and Castles EP Cover


From the first listen, each of the five tracks that make up ‘Numbers’, the debut EP from emerging Southampton four-piece Kings and Castles, embed themselves into your mind, with a catchy, upbeat, but also hard-hitting sound, taking in elements of indie, pop, and rock.

The band’s frontman, Ross Rolph, opens up about his life and surroundings, but in a way that is uncomplicated and simplistic, with thought-provoking lyrics that you also just can’t help but sing along to.

A particular highlight of this release is second track, and the quartet’s first single overall, ‘Love Is The Word’, which is fast-paced and melodic, with underlying deep basslines and really captures the feeling of what it’s like to be young and in love.

Listening to the track, I can understand why it was such an instant hit.

Another highlight of the EP is the closer, ‘Keep On Running From You’, which sees the guys going for a real 90’s-esque vibe, rather akin to Radiohead, but with more vibrancy.

‘Numbers’ is a solid debut for Kings and Castles, should be of wide appeal, and if you’re looking for something that makes you think, but also gets your toes tapping, then this comes highly recommended.

TOP TRACK: ‘Love Is The Word’







Lost Like Alice EP Cover


Young Welsh singer-songwriter Ben Parker, under the alias of Lost Like Alice, burst onto the scene last summer with his excellent debut EP, ‘Thread’.

Since then, he has been proving himself to be one of the most talented emerging artists around.

It is little wonder, then, that ’20’ has been so eagerly anticipated.

Comprising of six tracks that, when combined, run to a total of 21 minutes, this follow-up offering sees Ben take you on an intimate, deeply personal, and emotive journey.

The opener, ‘What’s Missing?’, is a blues-led track, delivered at a fast pace, with an underlying hook, angst-ridden vocals, and lyrics dealing with realisation, taking you back to a moment in your life when you had realised that you had gone off track and had to do better.

‘The Getaway’ is probably one of the two most emotive songs of the EP, the other being finale ‘One Last Time’, with gentle acoustic guitar strumming, soft vocal tones, and stripped back melodies, suiting well its theme of trying to get through to somebody that you care about, who is drifting away from your life.

The tender, tranquil sound continues with ‘Crooked Lines’, however, the chorus is easier to sing along to, and the lyrics deal with growing up, becoming more mature, and accepting your past mistakes.

Next up is the title track, ’20 (When We Wake)’, which Ben himself considers to be the most important of this record.

After listening to it, I found that I agreed with his viewpoint, as it really captures the essence, both musically and lyrically, of the EP, what with him singing about just turning 20, realising that he doesn’t feel it, and deciding to revisit pivotal moments in his life up to that point.

Again, Ben ventures down the path of stripped back melodies, but in comparison to ‘The Getaway’, this song is an altogether more optimistic piece.

Penultimate track, ‘Headlights’, the first single of this to be unveiled, late last year, sees Ben’s emotions at his most conflicted, he’s happy to be living a quiet, simple life, but at the same time, he sings about wanting more freedom, and having someone to share it with.

It is still a predominantly acoustic composition, however, there is subtle instrumentation, which makes the song stand out.

With a significantly longer running time of almost five-and-a-half minutes, ‘One Last Time’ really gives Ben a chance to shine, with atmospheric acoustics and harmonies enabling him to pour his heart out.

’20’ is a much more heartfelt and thought-provoking affair than ‘Thread’, and effectively shows just how much Ben has matured, both as a singer and songwriter, in what has been a relatively short space of time, which should definitely result in even more plaudits coming Lost Like Alice’s way.

TOP TRACK: ’20 (When We Wake)’




CARRIER – ‘Wither’


Carrier EP Cover


‘Wither’, the debut EP from Devon hardcore/metalcore quartet Carrier, is an offering packed full of honest emotion.

The band drag you in kicking and screaming with opener, ‘Flowers & Thorns’, which contains a fast-paced, intense mix of uncompromising riffs, brutal breakdowns, and battering drum beats, and a hoarse vocal delivery, but with some subtle, gentle piano playing, acting as effective juxtaposition.

Third number, ‘Grieve’, sees the quartet at their most frank and emotive, as you hear them express, straight from the heart, what they felt individually when a close friend of theirs passed away, through prolonged screaming and an aggressive stop-start riff, you can really feel the anger and pain that the outfit are conveying.

When I chatted with the Plymouth four-piece a few weeks back, they told me to “expect some surprises“, and there are obvious examples throughout this EP, most notably with fourth track, ‘August’, which sees the band opt for a more soothing, atmospheric sound, coupled with haunting melodies, with the raspy vocals the only presence from the other songs.

Closer ’10:15′ is probably the most anthemic of this offering, with an engaging, impassioned, but slightly slower riff, some indirect synth, and a chanting refrain of “Don’t let go!” that quickly lodges itself in your head.

Overall, ‘Wither’ is a remarkable debut, with much to offer, and it sees Carrier grab, with both hands, an opportunity to really show off their potential.

If the four-piece can keep the momentum going for the foreseeable future, and that’s something I feel confident about, then it will only be a matter of time before they have established themselves as a real force in British metalcore.

TOP TRACK: ‘Grieve’