Emerging from the successful #NEXTGEN project started by Danish label Prime Collective, South Haven spent almost three years honing their songwriting and sound before unveiling anything to the world. Now with their debut album, Motion, orchestrating our eager bouncing we suggest it has proved a very fertile plan and time.
It is fair to say that Copenhagen hailing South Haven gripped our attention with just the first play of their first full-length. It hosts a collection of songs which entangle the familiar with the boldly fresh to forge a release with distinct character. Maybe the most striking thing about the band is the two pronged vocal temptation at the fore. Nigerian born Angel Jemegbe and Christine Nielsen shine with individuality yet unite for a just as potent and unique proposal; energy and power fuelling both their prowess rich styles. Musically though the band is no fleeting temptation either; the swinging rhythms of drummer Sebastian Stendal and the mercurial growl of Stefan Elbaek’s bass command and manipulate attention whilst the guitar of Mathias Frederiksen is as hook and melody flirtatious as it is sonically invasive. With all aspects tied together the band’s melodic rock and metal forged sound bites and seduces, often simultaneously, and consistently had us enthralled in its roar.
Recorded with a host of Denmark’s finest producers in Jacob Hansen and Martin Pagaard (Volbeat, Amaranthe), Christoffer Stjerne (HERO), Chris Kreutzfeldt (CABAL, Ghost Iris, MØL) and Mirza Radonjica-Bang (Siamese, Helhorse), Motion instantly got under the skin with opener Dancing In Nightmares. One of their first singles, the track sets a lure with a strand of riffs before Stebdal’s beats fly through the air. As quickly the delicious grumble of Elbaek’s hit the spot with Angel’s immediately magnetic tones a calm texture in the more volatile mix. In an instant Christine’s vocals add yet another alluring aspect to the creative canvas, the vocals side by side a riveting proposal while throughout the track springs bait after hook, strike after temptation to strikingly kick things off.
In some ways the following Better struggled to spark the same lustful reception as its predecessor yet with its melodic fire, dark rhythms and again a vocal unity which refuses to be ignored, the song is a fiery serenade on the ears which was keenly devoured. Similarly as within the first and those to follow, the song shares unpredictable twists and invention; aspects as ably woven into the following pair of Crush and Soldier’s Heart. The first proved another particular favourite moment within the release, its snappy stride and matching vocal dexterity alone manna to an instinctive appetite which was only fed further as melodic, harmonic and sonic flames escalated the attraction.
Straightaway its successor springs a juicy groove on ears, its southern tinged drawl the invitation to bold vocal and rhythmic incitement which only harbours an urge to get under the skin. There is certain infectiousness to all tracks but especially virulent here as again the dual grip of both vocalists seeds the rich temptation on offer amidst individuality across all songs as shown again by the ensnaring flame of Torn. Emotively seductive and feverishly volatile, the track is a fruitful body of craft and enterprise matched in success by the agile alternative rock spiced Sweet Suffering and Devotion with its My Chemical Romance kissed dynamics and drama; two tracks which again had us keenly involved, the latter with real greed.
Next up, Winter In June is a portentous flirtation of irritability and aggression which provides a just as agreeable union of emotional intimacy and fervid breath while the balladry of Tomorrow is pure captivation, both voices sirens within the melodic embrace of guitar.
Bringing the album to a close, Stains is a coquette of sound in its own right, a sonic temptress woven in beguiling voice and tantalising enterprise. It is a fine end to a superb first involvement with South Haven and an album which maybe was not always basking in originality, though so often it was, but never wavered from providing fresh, fascinating, and full pleasure.
Surely reason enough to pay South Haven a visit.
Motion is out now through Prime Collective across most stores.
Pete RingMaster 14/05/2020
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