Villains – Self Titled

villains

     Showing a heart as big as its melodic invention and with energy as attention grabbing as its enterprise, the self-titled debut album from UK band Villains easily shows why there has been a richly brewing fuss about the Essex quintet. Eleven songs which stomp, infect, and croon though not necessarily in that order, the album is a vibrant and appealing slab of alternative rock from a band the country is destined to embrace. At times it scintillates with an imagination which has you catching your breath and in others simply pleases without reserve, but always the release provides a satisfaction which is lingering and full.

     Villains rose from the ‘ashes’ of Chelmsford band Never Means Maybe in 2012, an outfit with acclaimed releases and appearances at events such as Download, Sonisphere, T In The Park, and the Hevy Festival, as well as shows with the likes of Bury Tomorrow, Mallory Knox, and Enter Shikari under its belt. The five members reinvented name and sound to emerge as Villains and last year released debut single Come Out And Play, a track which was soon recruiting eager attention and praise from fans and media alike. It inspired a certain anticipation for the band’s first full-length, a hunger which is undeniably fed across the body of the album with plenty of additional flavour and quality to impress and surprise. The release is not necessarily one to really knock the passions off their feet, its sound arguably seeded in some recognisable beds, but it is an encounter to certainly leave them hungry for more.

     The band gets things off to the strongest start with The Ways I Tell Them, romping rhythms from drummer Drew Steane Cover-(500x500)stirring up the senses as the guitars of Tom McCarthy and Matt Steane have a potent strike at the air. Settling into a pacey stride with rhythms continuing to incite and the bass of Bert Forster adding its individual virulent temptation, the song is in no time working on imagination and emotions as the expressive tones of Renz Byrne glide over the sinews and melodies parading their enticements. With rigorously rousing choruses and energy to lift crowds, the track is a masterful start, the excellent backing and assisting vocals of Forster and Steane only adding to the bait.

     The following Wicked Ways makes a less striking start though is no less dramatic, the smooth voice of Byrne stroking the ears whilst guitars caress his presence. A darker bass groan adds shadows to the emotive endeavour whilst guitars and keys dazzle and evoke thoughts with a craft and adventure that accentuates the passion of the song. Though not as instantly gripping as the first, it eventually unleashes a charge of rhythms and intensity for its own anthemic tempting which soon seals the deal with the emotions. Its fine offering is matched and surpassed by the next track, The Fall. The vocal combination takes little time in charming the appetite as the emotive texture and drive of the song builds into a crescendo of passionate melody drenched heat. As already shown on the previous songs, Villains is never afraid to evolve and twist its invention as here ensuring predictability and expectations go hungry.

     We Have Capture continues the pull of the album if without matching earlier heights, its smouldering melodic embrace graceful and welcoming but veined by a muscular intent which brings again a riveting drama, whilst the following Bleed offers not for the first or last time, a Manic Street Preachers essence to its contagious hook and anthem spawning intensity. Provocative and deceptively melancholic, the song easily engages and excites before the emotive part ballad/part anthem The Light Out Lives The Star next croons and seduces the imagination. Verging on a stadium rock grandeur but honed to be just as effectively intimate, the song is a slow burner which over time climbs to stand on equal levels to the more vivaciously delivered tracks, though none really match its passion.

     The best track on the album is without doubt the previously mentioned single. Come Out And Play is simply irresistible, guitars and the grouchy bass making the first potent lure before joining the feisty drums and charging riffs to converge on the passions with a fiery and infectious gait. The singular and dual vocal delivery is outstanding and only seems to incite the sound to greater urgency and voraciousness, again the use of the word anthemic unavoidable in the face of the track’s glorious romp and persuasion. The only problem which arises is it leaves an inevitable shadow over the very potent efforts of Visions and Sinners such its triumph. To be fair the enthralling enterprise and almost antagonistic breath of the first of this pair is exceptional and stands aside its predecessor, if maybe one step back, to help forge the strongest part of the release whilst the second is coated in melody rich sonic flames around that grizzled bass tone and again compelling vocals to raise temperature and emotional concentration. Like the album as a whole, the song is a skilful draw and for personal tastes the perfect end to the album. That position though is taken by The Hardest Part, a mellow ballad breeding heart driven fire as it proceeds. It does not light similar flames in the passions but with Byrne again showing the depth and power of his voice and the song enjoyably showing the accomplished craft of the band, it is still a rich and full suasion.

   Villains, band and album is an undeniable force in the making, one already creating a deserved spotlight which you suspect will only intensify over time, especially if the band can go even further with the excellent potency of this release.

https://www.facebook.com/villainsofficial

8.5/10

RingMaster 24/02/2014

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Campus: Empathy

As the windows and doors to your thoughts, emotions, and soul are blasted and virtually shaken off their hinges by Empathy the new EP from Belgian post hardcore band Campus, you know this is one release you are not going to forget in a hurry, or want to. Empathy is immense, a sonic wind tunnel of intensity and aggression veined with inspired invention and melodic enterprise. The enormity of the EP is clear as one lies on the floor grasping for a new breath to chase off the numbness that pervades every sinew as the release signs off from its deeply satisfying four track obliteration of safety.

Released May 28th via Small Town Records, Empathy is destined to ignite passions within a great many more than ever before. With a sound which has traces of bands like Architects, Underoath, and While She Sleeps to its formidable and imaginative creation, the release is the next step on the quest to conquer far afield from their already worshipping homeland. The EP follows their thoroughly acclaimed 2009 album Oh, Comely! which itself followed a well received debut two years before in We Are The Silence. That initial release led them to opening up the Belgian leg of the Taste of Chaos tour of the same year and saw them share stages with the likes of The Used, Rise Against, Aiden and Gallows. Since then they have not looked back as shows and tours with the might of bands like Alexisonfire, Cancer Bats, Parkway Drive, Bring Me The Horizon, Underoath, and Architects filled subsequent years as well as numerous festival appearances.

It is probably fair to say outside of Belgian the band has still to find the heights their music deserves but with an impressive appearance at the Hit The Deck Festival in the UK this year, slots at the Burnout Festival, Hevy Festival, and Skatefest upcoming and most of all with Empathy this feels like the point the rest of the world takes notice.

The release opens up with the title track and within seconds has the senses reeling. As the rhythms of Josse Wijckmans pummel the ear hungry growling riffs prowl with a predatory intensity and overwhelming energy. Vocalist Martijn Leenaerts scowls and unleashes pure venom to match the tumultuous attack. His delivery is persistently varied and an example to many other same genre frontmen that mixing up things is a mighty tool. The guitars of Tijs Mondelaers and Fabrice Parent strip flesh with the sharpest of harsh riffs and energy whilst mesmerising with a melodic invention that leaves blisters seething within the ear. They are openly impressive and again show that thought and diversity can be a weapon of the greatest devastation.

From an impressive start the band raise the bar with Lone Wolf, another track to fly from first note with rampaging energy and dehabilitating effect. As with the first song bassist Tuur Geeraerts is a growling vehement presence bringing the darkest shadows and depth to the songs. Abrasive and provocative the track riles up more than the ear and leaves the first search for air an urgent need.

Downtime is a lumbering brute of a song, its heart, pace, and towering muscle the heaviest on Empathy. It does not neglect the other elements the band does so well neither, offering an impatient groove to wind around the ear with a grip borne of spite and melodic craft to light up the skies of the song like meteor shards, white hot and violently incisive.

The EP closes with the best song within its angry walls in Young Bastard. All the great things that preceded it return in greater heart and intensity. Vindictive, the aggression is lifted to its greatest heights leaving the senses ringing out for mercy and relief but wanting more and more of the same. Within this synapse melting the song explodes with the most infectious groove and clean vocals to ignite flames of primal energy. The track reminds of Red Tape with a twist of Ghost Of A Thousand at times and is easily one of the best tracks heard this year.

If Campus does not breakout to infect the world with their great sounds then justice has never had a place in music but with Empathy the feeling is their time is just shifting up multiple gears. https://www.facebook.com/CAMPUSBE

RingMaster 17/05/2012

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