Category Archives: EP Reviews

ESCAPE IS NOT FREEDOM/dusK VILLAGE – ‘Split’

(Self-release)

Escape Is Not Freedom Split Release Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘Split’ doesn’t just mean the title of the new EP from Escape Is Not Freedom, it means a whole lot more.

A four-track offering, two from the Chicago trio, and two more from Israeli outfit dusK Village, both of the songs provided by those outfits are markedly different from one another.

Escape Is Not Freedom are first up, with a follow-up to last year’s debut album, ‘Goldsmith’.

The band’s, and the EP’s, opener, ‘Boiling Nails’, is a heavy and intense affair, delivered at breakneck speed, and containing fuzzy guitar riffs, rough basslines, and hammering drum beats, also taking in elements of rock, noise, sludge and grunge.

All of this is accompanied to great effect by the angst-ridden vocals of the collective’s frontman, Mike Gussis.

In stark contrast, their next track, ‘We’re Wrecked’, starts off as more mellow fare, starting off with a slow and gentle riff that remains melodic, but gets progressively heftier as it moves forward.

Whereas ‘Boiling Nails’ was driven by the rasping, anguished vocals, the sound takes the lead on this, especially with a lengthy instrumental that starts halfway through and lasts around two minutes.

Emily Jancetic, a vocalist who featured on ‘Goldsmith’ and makes a welcome appearance here, really gets a chance to shine with a performance abundant in harmony and strength.

Escape Is Not Freedom’s half of the EP, by transiting between two uniquely crafted songs, is an effective vehicle for their diverse creativity, and that is something dusK Village aim for with their half, albeit with slightly less success.

Their first track, ‘Exolife Civilization Leak’, is constantly edgy and atmospheric, taking you down a very dark path indeed with moody riffs and hoarse vocals deposited at a gradual pace.

This is definitely the stronger of the two, as ‘A Self Fan’, even though done with more energy and pretty much the same level of intensity, is dominated by a guitar riff performed at such a loud volume that it becomes very difficult to hear what the band are singing about.

It’s a real shame, because it’s clear that they’re a talented bunch of guys, but I can’t help but think that it would have made for a much better listen had the vocals been stronger.

That aside, ‘Split’ is an offering that sees, for the most part, both collectives really stepping up to the plate, and serves as a solid introduction to fans of Escape Is Not Freedom who have yet to hear the work of dusK Village, and vice-versa.

(3/5)

CHECK OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH ESCAPE IS NOT FREEDOM HERE.

 

 

Advertisements

YOUYESYOU – ‘Well, At Least We Tried’

(Self-release)

YOUYESYOU EP Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

The debut EP from Stoke-on-Trent trio YOUYESYOU may be entitled ‘Well, At Least We Tried’, but after listening to this, it is clear that the band have gone for an altogether more serious approach.

Comprising of five well-crafted tracks full of deep, infectious riffery, pounding drum beats, and anthemic choruses, the Potteries outfit take you on a hectic, intense journey through elements of punk, alternative, hardcore and noise.

Leading the way is the energetic but tormented vocal delivery of frontman Chris Munday. Whilst predominantly consisting of shouts and screams ridden with angst, there are occasional forays into more melodic fare.

It shows how versatile Chris is as a vocalist, because quite a lot of similar-sounding bands use two people for what he does on here.

The lyrics are mainly politically motivated, one example being second track ‘Attack, Attack!’, which deals with the theme of those who share their opinions, no matter how controversial they may be, on social media, for the whole world to see.

‘Well, At Least We Tried’ is an offering delivered at breakneck speed, with each song tailor-made for the moshpit, something that will definitely go down well if the three-piece end up playing Bloodstock this year.

TOP TRACK: ’10 Minute Mate’

(3/5)

FIND OUT HOW YOUYESYOU PUT THIS EP TOGETHER HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VALENSOLE – ‘Make Pace’

(Self-release)

Valensole EP Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Having received an overwhelmingly positive response to last year’s debut release, ‘Where We Should Be’, emerging punk rockers Valensole could have faced a very daunting task trying to top what was a strong offering.

However, I suppose that was something that never crossed their minds if second EP ‘Make Pace’ is anything to go by.

The Southampton trio, led by multi-talented frontman Elliott Jones, who also produced and mixed the new record, have elected to keep at the core of their sound a highly energetic, anthemic mix of punk and grunge, with a few elements of pop-punk thrown in for good measure.

This time, though, the band’s approach to crafting the music, vocals, everything, is a better reflection of the great confidence and maturity that they possess, which is evident in the heavier guitar riffs, bolder bass lines, and more forceful drum beats.

There’s also further diversity in Elliott’s vocal delivery, with smoother, less disjointed transitions between angst-ridden shouts and screams, and fun, happy harmonies.

Overall, ‘Make Pace’ is a more effective piece of work from Valensole, with better songwriting and higher production values, and should put to bed any doubts from those who may think that the band improving on their debut was too big a job for them to accomplish.

TOP TRACK: ‘In Your Head’

(4/5)

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT VALENSOLE, AND HOW THEY PUT THEIR NEW EP TOGETHER, HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COUNTERPOINT – ‘If Not Now, When?’

(Self-release)

Counterpoint EP Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘If Not Now, When?’ is the debut EP from Manchester-based four-piece Counterpoint.

Armed with a sound that is a powerful, intense mix of alternative rock and alternative metal, the band immediately set the tone for what is to follow with first track, ‘Leave It All Behind’, which contains colossal guitar riffs, anthemic choruses, and a harmonic vocal delivery that occasionally ventures into harsher territory.

It is clear that the outfit have produced this release with their live shows very much in mind, as all five songs seem tailor-made for the stage, especially with lyrics that can easily be understood and able to sing along to, which always goes down well with a crowd.

Closer ‘One Sided Conversations’, with its less frantic melody and added depth both lyrically and musically, is an effective showcase for the quartet’s more mature side, and proves that there is nothing off-limits for them, even at this early stage.

Overall, ‘If Not Now, When?’ is a debut abundant in ambition and confidence which Counterpoint pull off with much success, seeing them make a real statement of intent.

TOP TRACK: ‘Leave It All Behind’

(4/5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CRIMSON STAR – ‘Bay View’

(Self-release)

Crimson Star EP Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

The majority of debut EPs are run-of-the-mill affairs with emerging bands/artists unwilling to risk on something that could make or break their careers.

However, Birmingham hard rock trio Crimson Star have decided to go in the completely opposite direction for ‘Bay View’, their first release, and it’s fair to say, on listening to this, that it has been a gamble that has paid off.

When I chatted with the band back in November, they told me about how confident and relaxed they had been during the recording process, and you can definitely get that vibe throughout.

The three-piece draw on a diverse range of retro and contemporary influences to create an overall sound that is hard-driven and immersing with plenty of melody.

They also use each of the five tracks as opportunities in which to experiment a little, with the vibrant grooves of ‘The Pragmatist’ and the avant-garde composition of ‘Euthanise Me’ as examples.

Frontman James Shaw provides a powerful and versatile vocal delivery, switching easily between soulful and intensive to suit the changes in musical style.

Producer Romesh Dodangoda does what he has done so well with the likes of Funeral For A Friend and Kids In Glass Houses, getting the best out of bands by effectively utilising their strengths, enabling a slick production.

Overall, ‘Bay View’ is a solid debut offering from Crimson Star, and I don’t think they could have done much better.

I know we’re only in the first month of 2018, but already, this looks like a contender for my EP of the year.

TOP TRACK: ‘The Pragmatist’

(4/5)

 

 

 

 

DOOMSDAY SUN – ‘Red Light Fever’

(Self-released)

Doomsday Sun EP Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Having already made an impact locally with a strong live set, Staffordshire metal duo Doomsday Sun have transferred the essence of this into ‘Red Light Fever’, their debut EP.

Consisting of six tracks, the fledgling band employ the use of heavy, progressive guitar riffs and snarling bass lines as bases on which to build up a sound that frequently switches with ease between aggressive and more melodic fare.

Another element that is ever-present throughout this offering is the overall lyrical theme of a bleak, post-apocalyptic future, where society has collapsed, thanks to the greed and arrogance of the wealthy and powerful.

The words are brilliantly delivered by a moody, gravelly vocal delivery from frontman Matt Hudson.

The multi-talented two-piece also find opportunities in which to experiment, with penultimate track ‘Dreamer’, being significantly shorter at around two-and-a-half minutes, and beginning with Matt ranting about the negative aspects of modern life.

If you are looking for something uplifting, then this is definitely not for you, but if you like a moshpit-friendly sound that harks back to legendary metal outfits such as Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, then this EP will be just up your street.

‘Red Light Fever’ represents a solid debut for Doomsday Sun, and I will be watching with much interest to see where they will go from here.

(3/5)

TOP TRACK: ‘Wastelander’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VISTA – ‘Long Live’

VISTA Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Having impressed with last year’s debut release ‘VERSUS’, New York two-piece VISTA are back with a new EP.

The band recently told me about the sheer amount of hard work and effort that they have put into producing ‘Long Live’, and this is clear throughout each of the seven tracks.

There has been noticeable development in regards to the sound, which for the most part, is bigger, louder and more anthemic.

This fits well with the lyrical content, which focuses on the theme of forming an allegiance and finding an ‘oasis’ in a dystopian society, something that should resonate with a lot of young people living in today’s world.

Hope Vista’s vocal delivery adapts with ease to the more experimental aspects of the EP, where the duo also get to show exactly how diverse they can be, with ‘Inside Anxious’ employing the use of distorted vocals and ‘Part III’ seeing them eschew the anthem rock in favour of a softer acoustic approach.

It is difficult to pick a standout out of such a well-crafted offering, but if I had to, it would be ‘Dominance 2.0’, which I believe could be the track with which they make a major breakthrough.

Originally a solo track from Hope, with the addition of Greg Almeida’s heavy guitar riffs, the song perfectly captures how solid the pair have become as a musical partnership in the last year.

In conclusion, ‘Long Live’ represents a real step up for VISTA from their debut and shows how much they have grown in confidence and maturity in the time since.

(4/5)

TOP TRACK: ‘Dominance 2.0’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The EP lyrically focuses on the theme of forming an allegiance and finding an ‘oasis’ in a dystopian society, something that should resonate with a lot of young people living in today’s world.