With their debut, the Tell Your Friends EP, UK rockers Dark Stares not only impressed and raised plenty of attention in their direction but also suggested they were still in the midst of finding a unique sound. Even so, it and they stood out as something fresh and different meaning the arrival of its successor, the Octopon EP was greeted with eagerness, quizzical expectations, and a very healthy appetite to see how the band had progressed.
The four song release has stepped forward as another outstanding slice of rock ‘n’ roll from the St Albans quartet, the release a slab of accomplished and slightly dirtier rock invention that answered all questions. Whereas the previous EP seemed to be searching for that one sound with many aspects and references to other bands playing their suggestions throughout, Octopon has found a narrower stance. It still employs essences of the likes of Foo Fighters and Muse for example but that is a cloudy breath now within an almost brawling singular presence that captivates from first note to last. Arguably there is less originality to the new songs than before, possibly and predominantly from the fact that they have a similarly crafted sound and presence, but for maturity, craft, and sheer compelling persuasion the EP is a mighty and refreshing piece of invention and step forward. Dark Stares has come of age so to speak with Octopon and suggests a feisty ride ahead with the band starts here.
The combination of brothers Miles Kristian (vocals/guitar), Taylor (drums), and Brett Harland Howell (bass) alongside Harry Collins (lead guitar), start things off with the mighty encounter Bad Machine. Since forming, the band has ripped up stages playing with bands such as Enter Shikari and The Darkness, and across numerous festivals, and from the opening song alone you feel they have watched, learned, and developed those experiences into their own distinctive brand of creative energy, for songwriting and performance. The track immediately surrounds the ear with thumping rhythms, concentrated abrasive guitar, and prowling basslines. The vocals of Miles bring again good expressive and keen vocals but they just glide through the brewing intensity rather than deflecting its impending climb. With a wash of scuzz to every atom of the sonic narrative, from vocals and sound through to production, the weighty edge to the presence of the song makes a mountain of a start. There is a familiarity to it also which makes the song easily accessible for limbs and voice to join the pounding treat whilst the acidic raw groove which cores it drags emotions into its richly satisfying grip with ease.
It is an excellent start soon eclipsed by the following Shinigami, the new single from the band. It launches off of the plateau set with a stronger sizzling energy and Muse toned melodic suasion, its sound again caustic but compelling, with the energy of band and song anthemic in voice and effect. The track romps across the senses and into the passions with no respite of its temptation, the excellent aside of melodic beckoning and rhythmic pouting a chance to snatch a breath whilst the temperature within still rises heartily. With a fiery crescendo bringing the song to a sudden stop, again for the listener to gain some composure, the band unleash another rising wave of noise bred rock with a burning climax that just seals the deal.
Steal Your Girl continues the excellent and intensive pleasure next, again the sound of the song holding a familiar air but without making clear declaration as to why. It strolls along with a swagger and enterprise that lifts the spirits and emotions, not to forget feet and hunger for much more. There is a touch of wantonness to its infectious charge too, reserved slightly but open to those that look, like a horny unsatisfied housewife on the prowl (the hell yeah of window cleaners everywhere ringing out right now). It is another irresistible piece of dirt clad rock ‘n’ roll that cements the new stature of Dark Stares.
Final track Blackfyre has a blues flame to its imagination, the guitars breeding from the potent source with heated intent to light up the skies around the equally emotive and flaming vocal delivery of Miles. The least raucous and instant of the four songs but arguably the most sonically poetic and creatively infused, it is a burning conclusion to the EP and shows the depth of the band still maybe yet to be explored.
Octopon is a great release which may have surprised a touch at first but left thoughts and passions alight with its skilled muscular entrapment. Dark Stares are poised to ignite UK rock; that the prime thought earned by their excellent release, oh other than excitement of course.
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