If debut album Chapel Perilous was the gas cloud holding the seeds to their genesis and the Science Junkie live single the spark to their expulsion, Sci-Curious is the big bang thrusting UK’s sound adventurers Axis Mundi into global recognition. An incendiary merger of aggressive rock, voracious rave, and untethered dubstep just to suggest some of its blistering invention, the band’s second album is a coming of age, a realisation of the potency in songwriting and sound which tempted before whilst breeding another strain of potential to even greater heights. A roaring celebration of science with insatiable riffs, hooks, and melodic predation, the album puts an already irrepressible proposition into the arms of essential investigation and devouring.
The trio of drummer Matt and guitarist/vocalist Gary Frewin with lead vocalist Shaun Garner first emerged in late 2008, taking little more than a year to become rated as one of the top upcoming bands in the UK. Originally a quartet, Axis Mundi earned an acclaimed reputation for their live performances and emerging songs. Already holding a passionate appetite and exploratory intrigue for all things science and its battle against the likes of politics, religion, and apathy, the Hinckley band worked closely with best-selling science author and New Scientist writer Michael Brooks during his election campaign against Hinckley and Bosworth MP David Tredinnick. Their first EP Find the Others caught strong waves of attention but it was with Chapel Perilous that the band really sparked a wider appetite for their sounds within the underground scene and subsequently more established media spotlights. Sci-Curious though makes it all seem like just the appetiser before its own main meal.
Through an attention raising Introduction, the album erupts with the instantly transfixing and highly animated opening shimmering of E-Bomb. Synths merge on the senses with sonically drenched colour and vivacity from its first breath, tempting the senses in league with increasingly tantalising sounds. Into its energetic and fiery stride the track dances around ears with a dervish like enthusiasm before settling into a more relaxed stroll within which the melodic tones of Shaun unveil the song’s narrative as infectious guitar toxins bred by Gary entwine their shadowed bait around the imagination. The sounds are as provocative as the lyrical view and its look at the turning away from scientific truths from those which choose to be blind. A masterful blend of electro alchemy and compelling heavy rock, the track is a magnetic tempest setting the album off to a tremendous start.
It is a potent entrance swiftly taken to another level by Movie In The Mind which emerges from the finale of the previous treat. Like a side show barker, Shaun coaxes in thoughts as a great niggling rub of guitar skirts his tones. The rhythms of Matt join the revelry soon after, his precise jabs adding to the unpredictable and intriguing showmanship of the song’s initial gambit. Just as immediate is the contagious air to the track, its irresistible call wrapping every note and syllable of the punk and metal kissed canvas beneath the subsequent rampantly swirling keys. Whereas the its predecessor had a feel of the Pendulum to its character, this plays at times like a rapacious merger of Pop Will Eat Itself and Enter Shikari, though as with the first song Axis Mundi have developed their sound to a point that first thoughts are always of the band itself when describing any of its distinct aspects.
The album continues to stir up hunger and passions with its might and established band sound as Science Junkie steps into view next. A favourite of seemingly everyone upon its release as a live track a while ago, the trio have understandably relinquished some of the unbridled urgency and rabidity which marked the original release with a greater adventure and melodic clarity on the album. The track still gallops like a stallion in heat, keys and guitars brewing up a techno maelstrom which is impossible to escape. As it sways, lurches, and climbs all over the senses you can almost see the invention of the song pulsating through its veins, its sonic blood rushing around the hypnotic hooks and seductive melodies which parade relentless across its ravenous body as glorious vocal harmonies between Shaun and Gary caress like a devious temptress. The track is a ridiculously thrilling encounter soon rivalled by the enthralling and confrontational rocker Shut Down The Rave. Feisty guitars and more sinewy toned vocals lead the track into another variation within the release, it in many ways a more straight forward course of electronic metal and rock but with plenty, like the acidic scythes of guitar and flowing evocative key sculpted hues, to steal the imagination all over again. With an antagonistic climax which smells of Rage Against The Machine at their best before a final bloom of seducing melodies, the song is a magnificent incitement.
As undeniable impressive as the album is already, the next stretch of songs secures its status as a classic protagonist. Springing from an informative sample, their use another pleasing additive to the album, The Astounding Fact unleashes almost ten minutes of heart racing, bone juddering invention but equally it involves elegant and sweetly melodic caresses between rabid outbreaks of predacious ravishment. Consistently evolving into and involving further anthemic strolls and almost Manic Street Preacher-esque like croons the ingenious provocative and unpredictable storm alone shows just how far the band has come in its songwriting, musical skills, and mischievous designs. It is just the start though as both What Do You Get? and Little Stories Of Discovery climb up to yet another plateau of persuasion. The first plays with that earlier carnival like premise of Movie In The Mind, though its intensive menacing onslaught of initial rhythms and guitar around discord blessed keys is a differing frightening prospect. Once the vocals enter to stir up air and lyrical dirt, a deranged fairground essence seeps into the riveting equation, wonderfully darkly tainted verses inspiring thoughts of Insane Clown Posse more than one or twice. Switching with a chorus cast in melodic rock, the song is a puppeteer of shadows and passions, the best track on the album though straight away challenged by its brilliant successor. It is a psyche /indie rocker which leaps and swaggers with the relish and craft of a Reuben and a Bloc Party aligned to the melodic craft of a Feeder, though despite those references the bewitching slice of invention is again uniquely and irrepressibly all Axis Mundi.
The album carries on enslaving thoughts and emotions though maybe not to the same heights such the brilliance of earlier songs but certainly the rich and welcomingly bruising rock endeavour of Only Genes Can Judge Me and the jagged reggae inspired canter of The Gospel According To Science steal their very fair share of the passions with their highly accomplished and skilfully coloured tales whilst the closing New Scientist brings one final undiluted festival of dancefloor igniting voracity. Within all the tracks the band again thrusts a middle finger to expectations with their enchanting harmonies and reserved melody fuelled breezes within diverse tempestuous stomps, and all constant instigators of feet and passions.
Sci-curious is an exceptional kaleidoscopic offering which takes Axis Mundi into a whole new realm of quality and instinctively invigorating adventure. You can only hope and suspect that the world will take intensive notice of the UK trio as they and the album dive into an insatiable rampage which maybe even scientific doubters will find no resistance for.
The self- released Sci-curious will be released on June 1st
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