A recent email from Andy Allen of UK band Forever Wednesday brought sadness and a big grin. First it contained the news that the impressive post hardcore rock band had split bringing a sad day to all fans of their robust and highly energetic formidable sound. Then the message informed that out of the band’s ashes some of the members had started up a new band Northpaw, so it was with eagerness and immediate endeavour their self titled debut EP was investigated and thoroughly enjoyed.
Consisting of drummer Allen, vocalist Charlie Grout-Smith, guitarists Josh Irvine and Spencer Huet, all coming from Forever Wednesday and bassist Jack Robinson, Northpaw have in many ways continued the sound created within Forever Wednesday but it has evolved into a more defined and compact yet still strongly expressive and explosive sound. Aggressive and equally melodic the band has managed to become more metal and more rock at the same time. To be honest listening to both bands side by side will bring full understanding of the last sentence but the best way to describe it is that the musicians that make up Northpaw and the music itself has matured and become an even more rounded and impressive beast.
The EP consists of three tracks that burst with vibrant ideas and energy, and dare one say more passion than heard before from the players within Northpaw. Their musical ability has never been in doubt but the new songs show them with an undefined extra edge that bristles within the tracks. The three songs threaten and engage with equal strength, the EP a tower of intensity and skilled craft.
‘Dead Horse’ opens the release to immediately announce that one’s attention is going to be taken and kept until the band decides differently. The decisive guitars trample all over the senses with imaginative creativity and power, their crashing riffs and scorching play igniting eagerness within for more and more of the band’s impressive intrusion. Vocally Grout-Smith is as emotive and forceful as ever and ably backed by Huet, their clean and harsher tones striking in taking the song’s lyrical intent and emotions deeper than the ear. The song is one that strikes a chord with most as it deals with debt and life.
‘Set Aside The Feud’ takes over next with equal effect and satisfaction. It carries a more personal feel to it rather than the more general content of the opener. Again the song drives deeper with intelligent songwriting and its realisation, the song holding and feeding the senses with ease. Already by the midpoint of the track the anticipation of a full album from the band let alone just one more song is rife and Northpaw firmly sealed in the ‘to follow closely’ box.
The EP’s best song closes this excellent release. ‘Pawns’ throbs with irresistible riffs and pulsates with soaring yet cutting melodies giving evidence that the members singularly and as a band have come of age. The track is stunning and though ‘Dead Horse’ is probably destined to be the lead track off the EP, this song will be the one to seal the deal with a surely soon to be avalanche of new fans and attention.
Whilst there is still a lingering regret at the loss of Forever Wednesday, the EP shows that something good and majorly important has stepped from its demise. Northpaw are going to make a deep and permanent mark on certainly UK rock music, but one feels that is just the start.