A year ago North Paw emerged from the ashes of Forever Wednesday to introduce themselves with their impressive self-titled EP. Now they return with its successor Trepidation to show that the early acclaimed thoughts about the band were maybe short changing them. The new EP sees the Alton, UK band with a maturer incisive sound and an accomplished craft which sets them apart from most others.
The Hampshire quintet of vocalist Charlie Grout-Smith, guitarist/vocalist Spencer Huet, guitarist Josh Irvine, bassist Jack Robinson, and drummer Andy Allen since their debut has been heavily gigging including a tour with Violet, in support of their debut, and all to strong responses. The EP itself though with a limited release also sparked a marked increase in their ever growing fan-base to match the enthused reviews and acclaim it received. Taking influences from the likes of Glassjaw, Thrice, Norma Jean and The Bled, the band has found another level of quality to their song writing and sound to make their imaginative new record a real breath of fresh air within UK post-hardcore.
As with its predecessor, Trepidation is a burning fire of expression and explosive sound, a stirring merger of unbridled aggression and melodic flames which is as compulsive as it is welcomingly intrusive. Evolving from that first release though the new EP has discovered an even more defined breath and imagination to its passion and invention. The first EP was not lacking in that department but this five track beast has an unpredictability and depth of skilled ideas which seamlessly inspire and invigorate the core of the already established sound. It is not given to you on a plate though, each song making demands on the welcoming senses with the extra ingenuity veining each track the richest of rewards.
Extinction is the first to place its fiery hands upon the ear, an opening abrasion of shadowed guitar sonics, scarring vocals, and punchy rhythms wakening the senses before the track steps wholly into view with an energy which makes you step back. Into its stride the band combines great clean vocals from Huet accompanied by Grout-Smithwith those already secured coarse squalls of verbal passion. It is a strong and well-crafted mix which reflects and spears the similarly structured sounds. The bass of Robinson is a wonderful gnarly presence throughout whilst the guitars manipulate and wring their notes of every ounce of heart and skilled invention they hold.
It is a heady start equalled by the following Face Needs and Habitus. The first is as intense and dramatic as the opener, a song which ravages the ear whilst caresses the gaping wounds with warm heartfelt harmonies and sizzling melodies. Everything about the band is impressive within each song but the vocals certainly stand out, especially the clean delivery, and are something other bands could learn from in combining extremes without depleting their strengths against each other. The later presence of Face Needs is a delicious wrap of alternative rock and a hardcore like spicery which has one flinching and drooling. The second of the two is a fury of punk and hardcore fired intensity with rampaging damaging riffs, towering rhythms, and a deep grazing of harsh vocals which reminds of US band Red Tape. It is a sonic scourge and one irresistible violation which still finds room to seduce with fine melodic invention.
Oil, Gratulerar continues in a vein very close to Habitus which at first was a disappointing beginning though the song soon slaps that emotion into touch when it unveils a terrific charge of barbed rhythms, scarring riffs and a wealth of infectious harmonies. It is the addition of the doleful keys though that sees the track takes a further elevation in the passions, its unexpected entrance adding emotive depths and a sense of resigned peace to the surrounding tempest.
Closing with the sensational Artificial Respiration, another track where violence and gentle caresses find a mutual home to declare their passion and immense enterprise, Trepidation is an outstanding release which just improves with each and every listen. A year ago we declared Northpaw as a band on a rise and to take close attention of, the new release only goes to prove us right and more.
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