After the irresistible bait put down by their excellent previous EPs, UK band Halfling’s Leaf has returned with not only a confirmation of their creative bedlam but a declaration of its new maturity and expansive schizophrenic ingenuity. The Stockport quartet has honed their distinctive and diversely imaginative sonic lunacy into a more concentrated yet no less boldly inventive proposition whilst turning up the aggressive rapaciousness which flirted with their earlier releases. The evidence is open and loud within Westover, the band’s new compelling and deliciously magnetic EP. Over six tracks, Halfling’s Leaf romp and stomp with propositions as ever impossible to pin down or label but fuelled with an even stronger inventive tenacity which sweeps greedily through their wide web of progressive avant garde punk ‘n’ funk devilry.
Formed in 2011, the foursome of vocalist Matt Franklin, guitarist/vocalist Mayo, bassist/vocalist Chid Seisay, and drummer/vocalist Andy Preece, soon grabbed attention with the Ain’t No Candy EP and gripped it tighter through the following High Times. Both EPs set the band apart from the rest, with especially the second release a potent lure to the media and radio shows like our own podcasts. The Daniel Buxton/ Halfling’s Leaf produced Westover is a whole new proposition though, a release which takes the seeds of the past and blossoms them into a startling and riotously captivating maelstrom of adventure and enterprise to surely push the band into a greater spotlight with that slice of fortune all bands need and here definitely deserves. Six more songs to fuel the imagination and incite the passions, Westover is a blistering warped dance to give insanity another shot of adrenaline.
Opener Sket launches itself at ears in a cacophony of bedlamic sound and vocal mayhem, instantly awakening senses and attention before settling into a muscular stride with roving rhythms and sturdy riffs. That premise is immediately twisted with a sultry funk swagger within the forceful beats whilst vocals are equally steamy and fiery to match the metal and hard rock essences teasing the mix. The track continues to swerve and writhe with unpredictable endeavour before discovering a chorus which is pure toxic virulence. Essences of Mr Bungle and Red Hot Chili Peppers spice up the indefinable temptation but only to ensure thoughts are further away from finding a valid description to the sound and triumphant moment. A jazz bred psyche kissed diversion ignites the imagination next, before the bass restores some kind of order with its throaty composure, yet it is just the spark for even more delicious bewitchment as the band transforms into a mix of Oingo Boingo and the Cardiacs for a simply bewildering and seductive devilry. The track is a brilliant start but just the beginning of something quite special.
The following Faces immediately has its devil sculpted hips twisting like a dervish; the first maniacally flirtatious moments courted by jagged riffs and vocal stabs within agitated beats. The song is soon slipping into something more comfortable, a noir lit smouldering glide of melodic shimmering and harmonic crooning which envelops and seduces the senses naughtily whilst in its background rhythms and insanity collude in a caustic tango of predacious tenacity. Like a bastard son of Melvins and The Fat Dukes Of Fuck, the moment seizes feet and passions like a maniacal puppeteer, leading body and heart into another raucous exploit to scare the bland and ignite the deranged.
Smiler reunites thoughts with hints of Rage Against The Machine, which marked the last release, and also a bluesy heat which sears the senses with an absorbing stoner-esque flame within a cage of rhythmic intrigue. The track is more straight forward than its predecessors, but still hold a thick air of unpredictable mischief and contagious tempting which again has feet and thoughts dancing to its tune. It shows yet another side and quality to the band, a sinew honed might which is a challenge for any heavy rock band but equipped with a psyche spawned invention to wrong foot and spark true originality.
An unhinged relish soaks the next up Stop the Clock, the track a busy frenetic web of At The Drive In like abrasion and Fall Of Troy sounding squalling charm but filtered into an incendiary furnace of Halfling’s Leaf uniqueness and rhythmic examination. The bass nags and snarls away across the smouldering fire of sound relentlessly to light up another lustful reaction but it is the loco lure of the guitar and vocals which leaves the spiciest irresistible suasion before the glorious aural stew makes way for the similarly feverish Fair Play. The band is back in full warped funk mode here but of course with flames of melodic voraciousness and disorientated rhythms shooting from the punk infested core. Again it is hard to avoid sending hints of RATM to thoughts but also impossible to disguise the unique experimental hysteria which skilfully entwines and excitingly perverts things with unhinged majesty.
The release is completed by the exotically delirious Party Piece, a squirming orgy of sonic salaciousness and rhythmic taunting ridden by uncontrollable invention and a vocal bustle. It is one final chaotic rampage which shows more scenic detours and alluring landscapes than a mystery tour. A riveting joy to end another wonderfully unsettling and mouthwatering masterpiece from Halfling’s Leaf, it confirms why Westover belongs to the devil as well as providing the frightening realisation that as staggering as it is this band can only get better meaning our souls are certainly lost to their alchemy.
Westover is available now @ http://halflingsleaf.bandcamp.com/album/westover
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