Listening to the debut album from Reaper In Sicily who cannot help wondering and going as far to suggest that the band has all the ability and creative strength to become Britain’s alternative to Billy Talent. Apart from strong whispers of the Canadians in sound across a lot of Islands, the quintet also has the same skill and invention in landing a mighty punch with their sound whilst seducing with melodic imagination and inciting the passions with anthemic crafted vocals and hooks. The ten track album is excellent, exceeding the promise earlier single Horizons suggested and setting the Aberdare band as one of the most exciting and promising emerging rock bands.
Reaper in Sicily began in 2009 and with a sound which has been compared to the likes of The Blackout and Rise Against and a potent and lively live show, soon became the winners of the unsigned live act in Kerrang! Magazine. Their debut single We Are The Show garnered strong responses and widespread play on TV and radio across the UK but then in 2010 guitarist Matthew Jenkins diagnosed with leukaemia taking the band on hiatus until he was able to return, which thankfully he did later the same year. Two EPs swiftly followed to continue the rise of the band as well as successful appearances at both the Reading and Leeds festivals and supporting and playing alongside the likes of Kids In Glass Houses, The Subways, Max Raptor, Attack! Attack!, Mallory Knox, Hawthorne Heights, Fightstar, The Xcerts, Straight Lines, I Spy Strangers, Evarosa, Hildamay and many more. Islands was recorded in the closing weeks of 2012 with Romesh Dodangoda (Funeral For A Friend, Kids In Glass Houses) and as mentioned the release of Horizons set up a urgent anticipation for its debut though even that hunger we would suggest did not expect such an impressive encounter.
The Prisoner sets things ablaze with dawning caresses of guitar before shrugging off any restraint to open up sinews and melodic persuasion framed and veined by the firm hand of drummer Damon Miles’ beats and the rumbling tones of the bass of Mike Evans. With energy flowing freely and attention fully captured the guitars of Jenkins and Jonny Chappell carve a distinct and captivating character to the song whilst the excellent expressive tones of vocalist Rhys Bernardo drive the ride with slight squalls within his enticing delivery. The song is an immediate draw which without lighting the same depth of fire as following songs, sets the listener up to eagerly embrace what is to come.
The following 50 raises the bar again with muscular riffs and strongly beckoning grooves casting their temptation over senses and passions. The tight craft and melodic enterprise reminds of bands such as The Blackout and even Avenged Sevenfold whilst the punk snarl edges things with hardcore confrontation. Once it makes way for Down But Not Out it finds itself outplayed whilst the album continues to get better and better. The third song builds on the base of its predecessor to expel even stronger scowling venom and caustic winds within ridiculously infectious enterprise and sounds. Into its stride the track takes its recipient on a riotous dance with moments of bruising attitude and exhausting passion which again cements and accelerates the growing presence and promise.
The single Horizon still impresses as it did on its unveiling, thumping rhythms alongside the thick tones of the bass wrapped in fiery guitar washes thrilling whilst Bernardo lights another emotive heat to engage and entice things further, whilst the likes of Old Dogs and the title track romp and emotively stroll respectively to weave continuing creative textures and calls before thought and heart. It has to be said that there is a similarity to the surface sound of many of the songs but with the invention beneath and accomplished polish of its shine it is not an issue and will evolve out ahead as the band mature.
The tail of the album is its most impressive as Islands continues to get even stronger song by song. Sunnydale Sucks encloses the ear with addict forming riffs and a varied bluster of vocals, coarse and melodic, which enslave the imagination whilst the guitars bound it all in sonic teasing to set richer flames in their fire. Then Boys Will Be Boys comes in to steal top honours with its furnace of passionate vocals, virulent melodic contagion, and energetic imagination, every second a bouncing and incendiary companion uniting for a fervour crafted triumph. Those Billy Talent references are at their most inviting at this point of the album with both The Catalina Wine Mixer and the closing Chuck Norris Got A Chainsaw making their thrilling interpretations. Both songs leave a breathless appetite rife which immediately snatches at the play button to enjoy the outstanding album all over again at their completion.
Islands should and will be a trigger to an unbridled new sea of attention and acclaim for Reaper In Sicily and it will be all deserved we can assure you. Check out the album and remove any doubts the very best way.
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