Overweight – Chapter 11

There is something about ska punk that is always infectious to some degree no matter the ability of the band bringing its enthused energy into view. With bands like Belgian ska punks Overweight this infection borders on contagion, their catchy insatiable sounds a festival for the senses. December 5th sees the release of their new EP Chapter 11 to further please and delight with five songs that grab hold and unleash aural joy on the ear.

Overweight began in 2001 in Vilvoorde when school friends started up a punk band, this soon evolved into ska punk as a brass section was added. Early demo ‘What We Call Paradise’ started the rise of attention to be solidly reinforced by the 2008 demo ‘Back To Life With A Hangover’. The following year saw their debut album ‘The World For Sale’ really fuel a growing appeal and eagerness for the band from further afield. Impressive shows and a French and UK tour raised their stock further and despite departure of a founder member in 2010, Overweight regrouped to return with the new line-up of Gert Thielemans (vocals and trombone), Kevin Boonen (guitar and backing vocals), Jurgen Ral (trumpet and backing vocals), Julien Daiche (drums), and Willem Merck (bass), and an EP to take them even deeper into willing and enthusiastic demanding ears.

It is fair to say that diversity amongst ska punks bands is not the widest, the core sound in some ways quite limiting and it is the quality of songwriting and musicianship that sets bands apart something Overweight are impressively strong on. References have been made to the band sounding like Less Than Jake and one can understand that but on the EP’s evidence the quintet sit firmly alongside the likes of Mad Caddies, Reel Big Fish and [Spunge]. They do add some harder punk rock sounds too that remind of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and in some ways Rocket From The Crypt to produce music that appeals loaded with substance.

The EP opens with probably the most obvious and straight forward song in ‘Turbo’. Energetic and bouncy with choppy guitars, group harmonies, and fluid brass sounds the song delivers with direct and eager intent even if without producing any real surprises. It is fun and comes with a determination to not leave until toes are tapping along, making a great start to Chapter 11.

Guantanamo’ leaps in next with equal boisterous energy and mischief. A great bassline supports the melodic dance, purposeful lyrics, and resourceful brass sounds making the track irresistible. Things really step up though when ‘Generation?’ moves in to show its wanton wares. The first two songs are great fun but from this point right through to the end the levels are pushed up a notch or two. The third song comes with a punkier edge and attitude without losing the infectious and mesmeric melodic funky grooves. A word like catchy really does not do it justice; its hypnotic charm staying with the listener long after it passes the musical torch onto the next track.

It that was hypnotic then the pulse and contagious hooks of ‘I Want It You Got It’ are certified aural addiction. The song is so infectious that at the song plays whilst writing this section the keyboard has danced as much as the eager limbs below its stand. Well crafted and realised this is pop music of the highest order, something the best ska punk can produce effortlessly it seems.

The punk fused epidemic that is ‘No More’ completes the release bringing forth more appetising melodic hooks, warm brass sounds and an unlimited supply of not to be denied infections. There is nothing but good things that can be said about this song, in fact every song that makes up Chapter 11.

The EP admittedly is not breaking down boundaries for ska punk but it is hard to think of many that do break out from the ‘traditional’ sound, but there are going to be even fewer as satisfying and enjoyable as Chapter 11 from Overweight.

RingMaster 15/11/2011

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Our People Vs Yours – Lights EP

With an already solid base of acclaim and strong reviews Essex metalcore band Our People Vs Yours are sure to push out into even stronger and loftier heights with their new EP Lights. Raw and aggressive the release intimidates and thrills in equal measure, Our People Vs Yours reinforcing their stature as one of UK’s more potent and promising metalcore bands.

Originally formed in 2008 the band ‘Re-formed’ with current line-up of guitarist and vocalist James Sweeting, vocalist  Joe Miles, bassist  Dan Clark, guitarist Josh Nunn, and Harvey Freeman on drums in 2009, taking in a new avenue with the addition of cleaner and melodic vocals to their powerful sound. Debut 2008 EP Here Comes The Flood and 2010 second EP Southern Colours set them apart from similar veined metalcore bands as well as garnering distinct attention and praise, backed up by the single Time To Rise in the latter part of last year. Shows with the likes of Deaf Havana, Lower Than Atlantis, This Is Colour, Young Guns, The Elijah and The Ocean Between Us and festival appearances along bands like Architects, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Funeral For A Friend added to their reputation and respect for their hard working ethic.

     Lights see the quintet again blend hard hitting intense riffs and guitar driven energy drawn from a pool of noise bands like Architects, Underoath and Norma Jean fuel their beasts from with the melodic and progressive sensibilities of the likes of Between The Buried And Me and Periphery. Consisting of four dynamic and forceful tracks Lights is an enterprising and fluid exchange of engaging insightful melodies and technical skill and formidable attitude soaked aggression.

The title track opens the release immediately displaying the varied sounds and styles the band brings into their distinctive music. The song is a pulsating and captivating mix of incisive skilful guitars, energises riffs and rhythms, and smooth flowing melodies and vocal mix. Balancing a perfect fusion of growls and dripping attitude with emotive harmonies, the vocals match the music perfectly. The song is memorable despite not carrying obvious hooks, choruses or hypnotic riffs, a testament to the songwriting of the band.

As good as the title track is it is the following two songs that really stand out and where the band let fly with a heavier and more intense purpose. ‘Ariha’ is colossal, the best track on the release and proof to why the band is so highly rated and followed. Like a tumbling wall riffs and beats pummel the senses incessantly without neglecting fine melodic and creative razor sharp play. The song leads straight into ‘I’ve Had Better Days’, a song almost on par with its predecessor. Soaring vocals smooth and screaming attack the ear as battering riffs and pulse bursting rhythms rage intently and throughout a deep cavernous groove veins the song menacingly. Though both songs depart in under three minutes they leave one breathless and desperate for more.

In Unity’ completes the release with equal effect and success. Bridging the melodic and smoother attack of the opener and the deliberate power of the other two, the song nestles in the ear with a caress and slap at the same time. It is probably the most creative of the four songs on show, carefully structured and layered with intelligent and skilful progressive sounds to compliment and oppose the heavy direct power.

Our People Versus Yours are already marked as the band to watch and drive UK metal, the Lights EP is simply more impressive and undeniable evidence.

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RingMaster 15/11/2011

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Nemesea – The Quiet Resistance

The Quiet Resistance from Dutch rock band Nemesea is a bit of a conundrum, on one hand it is a vibrant well written and realised collection of electro pop/symphonic rock tunes but on the other leaves the distinct thought that the band could have found and given even more to place the album as a must have contender. There is almost a sense of being short changed on the release and though that is being maybe over critical the feeling is there, The Quiet Resistance being a good strong release but a certain lost opportunity to create something really special.

Formed in 2002 by vocalist Manda Ophuis and guitarist Hendrik Jan de Jong later joined by bassist Sonny Onderwater and Frank van der Star on drums, the quartet from Groningen found eager attention with their 2004 debut album Mana and from successful extensive tours. Second album In Control appeared in 2007 after the band signed up at sellaband.com to become one of the sites notable successes. This year saw the band sign with Napalm Records and the imminent release of The Quiet Resistance. 

Drawing on the best elements of their previous releases The Quiet Resistance exudes a stronger and more aggressive sound whilst still retaining the immense melodic pop and rock sound. Nemesea is certainly not going to numb senses and break down walls with their intensity but there is a certain shift to firmer and more imposing riffs and energy alongside the harmonics and graceful sounds. There is also a deliberate move into more electro pop flavours which though varied in depth from song to song make the release even more accessible to a wider array of ears. Ophuis is as ever impressive with her voice and delivery and the focal point on most tracks with the music playing for her at times rather than with her. This is not exactly a criticism as it works well and the band creating their sound from an Evanescence/ Within Temptation type mix… not exactly though it does feel like it restricts the bands hinted real identity to fully shine.

Before continuing it should be noted that despite what is written here the album was fully enjoyed and will happily be listened too again and again, thus the puzzle and feelings of a missed chance to create something truly unique as glimpsed constantly within the album’s walls by some fine moments. It is no coincidence that the truly inspired and strongest tracks are the ones where the band step away from the pop/rock Evanescence flavoured songs which the band have mastered wonderfully with songs like the glorious ‘Afterlife’, the simple and effective grace of ballad ‘I Live’, and ‘Say’ with its deep dark bass twang and striking guitars recalling a Linkin Park/Evanescence link up. Good enjoyable songs that play with ease just without enflaming or inspiring the senses.

It is the tracks where the band take big steps into newer climes that they show there is much more within them waiting to be unleashed. The two industrial powered songs in opener/intro ‘The Quiet’ and the dark apocalyptic soundscape of ‘2012’ are stunning, emotive and expressive in sound and intent. Though both are without proper vocals, basically instrumentals they show the band do have distinct power and ideas, and know how to deliver them. Alongside these we have the excellence of ‘It’s Over’ and ‘Allein’. The first going down the Sick Puppies rock road features Markus Klavan and Matt Litwin of American band Bulletproof Messenger and drives for the ear with eager metal intent. Within the opening chords and first line the song has the ear alert and pulse excited, the vocal blend of male and female vocals a perfect mix as is the synth waves of sound alongside the driven guitars.

Allein’ is easily the albums best track and one hopes a direction they will look at more in tandem with their melodic rock sounds. Another industrial inspired slice the song features vocals from Heli Reissenweber of Rammstein cover band Stahlzeit, and it is no surprise there is a distinct Rammstein flavour. The track excels with the again great vocals from Ophuis alongside Reissenweber, its power and diversity the cause of eager anticipation of more in this vein from the band.

The Quiet Resistance is a great album, well created and delivered and at every point makes listening to it a pleasure. It just could have been a classic if the band had been more adventurous throughout and experimented more, but as the enjoyment is still strong all should go take a listen and decide for themselves.

http://www.nemesea.com/

RingMaster 15/11/2011

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