Category Archives: EP Reviews

SEASONAL – ‘Bloom’ (3/5)

(Self-release)

Seasonal Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘Bloom’ is the debut EP from Surrey pop-rock quartet Seasonal.

Prior to this new release, the emerging outfit had given everyone a taster of what to expect with the unveiling of opening track ‘Certainty’, which impressed many with its heartfelt sound and frank lyrics dealing with past experiences, and it is these, as well as the raw and emotional vocal delivery of frontman Matt Truseler, that form the key elements providing the foundations on which the band build upon throughout the five tracks.

However, they make sure that no song sounds exactly the same, as each track does have something different about it, whether it’s the fun, upbeat ‘Headphones’, heavy, technical ‘These Games’, energetic ‘Ranger’, or gentle, melodic closer ‘Homeward’.

The versatile mix of music shows that, even at such an early stage of their existence, the four-piece have little interest in putting together a basic, generic offering and instead have decided to use it as an opportunity to show off just how diverse they can be in the ways that the instruments they play are utilised.

In conclusion, ‘Bloom’ isn’t the greatest debut ever, but crucially for Seasonal’s future as a band, it is a solid collection of tracks which I’m sure will be improved on with their next release.

TOP TRACK: ‘Certainty’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EVERYDAY SIDEKICKS – ‘Hope’ (4/5)

(Self-released)

Everyday Sidekicks Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘Hope’ is the sophomore EP from Bristol post-hardcore outfit Everyday Sidekicks.

The quartet burst onto the scene nearly eighteen months ago with their debut release ‘The Things I’ve Seen’, which impressed many with its heavy, anthemic sound, taken from a diverse range of musical influences.

With this new five track offering, the band have decided to use the elements of that and enhance it on a monumental scale.

Just by listening to opener ‘Glass House’, it is clear that they have aimed big, with the song beginning with a flourish of ferocious intensity and aggression, which becomes a major part of the make-up of the EP, with guitar riffs and drum beats both being delivered at breakneck speed.

Coupled with the pulsating, energetic vocal delivery of frontman Archie Hatfield, it seems that the tracks have been tailor-made for the moshpit.

However, with penultimate song ‘Lacuna’, the four-piece show just how flexible they can be with their music.

An almost two minute instrumental, the track differs from the rest of the output by utilising a sound that is gentler and more melodic.

It proves that the band can comfortably venture into other musical stylings, and manage to pull it off well, without it disrupting the rhythm of the rest of the EP.

Another thing Everyday Sidekicks pull off with success is with the diverse lyrical content, which deal with matters ranging from heartbreak to the state of the current world, all connected by a central theme of hope, for example, ‘Glass House’ concerns not having a choice in losing somebody close to you, whereas lead single ‘Fracture’ will appeal to those bemoaning the current state of the mainstream music industry, with Hatfield attacking those who prioritise artists and outfits who have good looks and more marketing potential over musicians who don’t necessarily have those attributes, but have an abundance of talent.

‘Hope’ is a substantial sounding offering that acts more effectively as a showcase for the band’s talents, and represents a real step up for them. The EP should also have a wide appeal, both for their current fan base, who enjoyed listening to their debut, and anybody who is just discovering them.

TOP TRACK: ‘Fracture’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CATCH FIRE – ‘A Love That I Still Miss’ (4/5)

(Rude Records)

Catch Fire Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘A Love That I Still Miss’ is the sophomore EP from Nottingham five-piece Catch Fire.

Rather than bask in the success of their well-received debut ‘The Distance I Am From You’, released last year, the band instead went straight to work on this eight track offering, and now, the fruits of their labour are here for all to listen.

Second time around, the quintet have elected to retain the basic elements of their first EP, which consisted of a sound that was a fusion of pop-punk and emo, coupled with lyrics that were frank and relatable to the listener.

However, it is evident from listening to this new release that they have used it as an opportunity to evolve somewhat.

The compositions are more mature, and are probably a reflection of the band moving on from their teenage years and going into full adulthood. A good example of this is with the two contrasting instrumentals that bookend the EP.

Prologue ‘Poise’ is fast-paced, laden with heavy guitar riffs, and prepares you for the tracks ahead, whereas epilogue ‘Sinking’ goes at a more gentler pace, with a melodic strumming of an acoustic guitar, which gives you a chance to reflect on the songs before.

It is things like this that confirm Catch Fire are far from a generic pop-punk outfit.

The lyrics also show more maturity, delving deeper into a theme of emotional negativity, with frontman Miles Kent opening himself up more to the listener, singing frankly about his past negative experiences and how he found a way to overcome them, which is relatable to anyone who has or is going through the same things.

His lyrical talents shine through the most on the penultimate track ‘Thin Ice’, where he muses about how he thinks he will never be good enough for someone, despite their assurance that he is. He sings it in such a way that you can’t help but feel sympathy for him.

In conclusion, ‘A Love That I Still Miss’ has clearly been a labour of love for Catch Fire, with each track being given much care and attention, and it shows that they can effectively put together an offering that holds together the main elements of their debut and enhances it at the same time

TOP TRACK: ‘Thin Ice’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIGH TIDES – ‘I’m Not Giving Up, I’m Just Starting Over’ (4/5)

(Scylla Records)

High Tides Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Having burst onto the scene last year with their impressive debut release ‘Home Truths’, Nottingham quintet High Tides have unleashed a follow-up, ‘I’m Not Giving Up, I’m Just Starting Over’.

Consisting of eight tracks, this mini-album sees the band use the usual basic elements of pop-punk as a base on which to build a mature and well-crafted sound.

The songs are fast-paced, containing catchy choruses and pulsating but harmonic guitar riffs, however, at times, it can differ somewhat.

For example, the track ‘Realisation’, which serves as a little interlude at the halfway point of this offering, shows the five-piece going down a more emo route, with the gentler melody showing exactly how they can set themselves apart from the average pop-punk outfit.

The lyrics are hard-hitting, dealing with themes of heartbreak, failed relationships and big decisions, as well as making mistakes and eventually learning from them, sung with raw emotion by frontman Christian Litchfield.

This is a mini-album crammed full of strong songs, with ‘Bridges’ arguably being the one that has the most strength and depth, dealing frankly with a point in time where somebody has to make a decision that will affect their life for the better or for the worse, this serves as a great example of how mature the band can be both lyrically and musically.

In conclusion, ‘I’m Not Giving Up, I’m Just Starting Over’ is a release that represents High Tides making a real step up, and shows that pop-punk outfits can do music that can have much attention to detail paid to it.

TOP TRACK: ‘Bridges’

 

 

 

ANONYMOUS – ‘What You Deserve’ (4/5)

(Self-released)

anonymous-cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

I first came across Anonymous, a hard rock outfit from Staffordshire, in the summer of 2014, when I saw them perform a set at a pub in their home town of Uttoxeter.

Seeing them play convinced me at the time that the band were not just four teenage boys messing around and having a laugh, that in fact they were actually taking everything seriously, which was best reflected in their well-crafted, mature sound.

Almost three years, a positively-received self-titled debut and lots of universally acclaimed live shows later, they have unleashed on the public their second EP ‘What You Deserve’.

The basic elements of their music remain unchanged, with a sound still firmly rooted in classic rock, containing heavy vocals, soaring guitar riffs and anthemic chrouses.

What is different with this though is that they have used these and enhanced them, which is a good reflection of how they have evolved as people and as a band in the time from the release of their debut to now.

Frontman Rob Baynes’s vocal delivery is evidently stronger, perfectly getting the right balance of substantial and melodic, with the riffs of both guitarist Hayden Kirk and bassist Luke Lawley, as well as the drumming of Steven ‘Herbie’ Herbert, showing more confidence, energy and better displaying their immense talents.

When I recently chatted with them, the band said they were given greater creative control in recording the EP, this could have backfired terribly, especially for an outfit yet to release a full-length album, but with the maturity, intelligence and talent each member possesses, there was no danger of that happening.

With more freedom this time around, it is clear from listening to every one of the four tracks that they have grasped this opportunity with both hands and have made something that lets them and their music truly shine.

In conclusion, ‘What You Deserve’ is a solid second offering from Anonymous, and is also further confirmation for me that they are a band that won’t fade away any time soon, and are destined for even bigger things in the near future.

TOP TRACK: ‘What You Deserve’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALTER EDEN – ‘Tigers & Lambs’ (4/5)

(Self-released)

alter-eden-cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘Tigers & Lambs’ is the second EP from Stoke-on-Trent alternative rock/metal outfit Alter Eden.

Since bursting on to the scene with their well-received 2015 debut ‘Fearless’, the quartet’s follow-up has been much anticipated.

Well now, the wait is over and on listening to this, they have certainly not disappointed.

An indication of how much the band has developed in the last two years is with the sound, which is bigger and better.

Switching with ease between the sub-genres of metal, it is mainly a fast-paced and heavy affair, containing thundering riffs, pounding drum beats and anthemic choruses.

The lyrics are well written, touching on a number of subjects ranging from personal issues on the title track and ‘Colourless’, to a commentary on the state of the current world, which is the theme of closer ‘We’ve Had Enough’.

Strong support for both of these are provided through the eclectic vocal delivery of frontman Nick Pilgrim, which can smoothly go from tender and emotional to intense and aggressive within a click of a finger.

With this EP, it seems that the Potteries outfit have set out to appeal to both a solitary person listening quietly through their headphones and a rock venue crammed full of moshers.

The band already enjoy a good live reputation, and each of the six tracks that make up ‘Tigers and Lambs’, when played at a gig, will ensure this will continue.

In conclusion, Alter Eden’s second offering is solid and well put together, a good showcase for their talents and builds on the strong foundations they laid with ‘Fearless’.

AS THE SUN SLEEPS – ‘As Good As Gold’ (3/5)

(Self-released)

as-the-sun-sleeps-cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

It has not been a particularly good twelve months for a lot of people out there, but it’s been a period that Swindon pop-punk outfit As The Sun Sleeps will look back on with much fondness.

Since bursting on to the scene last January with their debut release ‘Never Stars’, the emerging four-piece have gone from strength to strength, building a strong fanbase, enjoying a successful tour and being tipped for big things in the future by the music press.

Therefore, in the run-up to the release of their follow-up ‘As Good As Gold’, there has been high expectation.

With this, the band have elected to stick with a sound consisting mainly of high octane, melodic fare, with catchy choruses, sing-along lyrics and upbeat guitar riffs.

It can be rather generic at times, but it gives the EP an overwhelmingly positive vibe.

However, in some parts, the Wiltshire quartet gives the listener a chance to hear how versatile they can be.

The best example is with the track ‘What Matters Most’, which contains a heavier sound and edges more towards rock than pop-punk.

Also, they don’t seem afraid to poke fun at themselves now and again, with the lyrics of ‘Florida’ reflecting the obsession that British pop-pun seems to have with anything American.

Overall, it is a very well put together EP, and if you are a pop-punk devotee, then this will be just up your street.

If As The Sun Sleeps can step things up a little more for their next offering, which I have confidence in them doing, then a bright future awaits for them.

TOP TRACK: ‘What Matters Most’