Though not a slow burner, the five track encounter making a potent impression first time around, it is fair to say that Hunter |Gatherer from UK quintet Calling Apollo just gets bigger and more impressive over each and every listen. It is a proposition which suggests that its creators is still a band evolving and discovering their ultimate sound but powerfully hinting that when they do it will be something to get very excited over. To be honest Hunter |Gatherer is already an attention grabbing proposal which whips up a keen appetite and anticipation in return for its mix of familiarity and fresh invention; the EP a potent step in the full emergence of one very promising band.
Rising from Cardiff towards the end of 2012 as a quartet, the band spent time creating and honing their sound inspire by artists such as Deftones, The Cure, Funeral For A Friend, Thrice, The Doors to Kings Of Leon, Nine Inch Nails, and Muse amongst many. Vocalist Christian James Neale was recruited early the following year before the five-piece hit the live scene, starting with a show in Newport which earned rave reviews. This was followed by the release of the band’s debut EP Vessels; an encounter self-recorded in a tiny box bedroom in Barry and released as a free download to great responses. In 2014, Calling Apollo ventured into the studio for the first time, recording the Clone City/1945 single. It was a greedily received offering by fans and underground media alike, a success easy to see repeated and more by Hunter |Gatherer.
The release opens with the meaty tones of Hunter, riffs and rhythms a pungent proposal from the off entwined with inviting melodic strands of guitar. Though there is a recognisable air to the song quite early, its busy enterprise and imagination means there is a strong unpredictability to the encounter. The vocals of Neale instantly hold attention, his presence with a melodic embrace around him bringing a Placebo essence to wrap the robust rhythms of drummer Zak Woolf and bassist Luke Walters. The pair in turn provide an anthemic but also tempestuous canvas for the guitars of Kevin Williams and Dan Hughes to colour and spiral from whilst rawer backing vocals compliment Neale to good effect. The song does not leap out at the imagination and emotions as maybe it should have given its creative endeavour, but it certainly awakens keen interest which is more heavily inspired as each subsequent song comes forward.
The following In This City makes a gentle guitar caress on ears initially, its melodic romance swiftly reinforced by the mellow tones of Neale. As it entices, the pairing breeds a rising intensity which erupts in a controlled but tempestuous stroll of agitated rhythms and sonic tenacity. Once in full swing the track is a captivating contagion of emotive expression, revealing the one reference which dominates all when describing the band’s sound. Though there is a great variety to the music, it is Billy Talent which this and following songs most remind of, Calling Apollo sculpting the same impassioned, hook loaded adventure the Canadian band is so adept at
The outstanding encounter makes way for Chemical Breaker, a song which also makes a restrained entrance equipped with radiant melodies and stirring rhythms before boiling up into a more turbulent and engrossing proposal. Though it does not constantly have the same dramatic spark as its predecessor, it is a track which becomes more volatile and fascinating minute by minute and over time, setting up emotions and a now hungrier appetite nicely for the closing pair of richly enticing songs.
Monsters has moments where its potency is more diluted than in other instances within its body but when bounding along with boisterous and dynamically striking enterprise it is a mouth-watering exploit. Even its less fiery essences provide an enthralling incitement to be held firmly by. Melodies and vocals never lack emotive energy whilst the more controlled aspects of the song where the band for personal tastes could have pushed themselves into darker more unpredictable waters, do not hang around long enough to defuse the aggression and voracity of sound and song.
Enjoyable as it is though, Gatherer quickly outshines its predecessor, its opening breeze of melodic coaxing around a shadow kissed bassline tantalising. The lure only thickens as floating harmonies and the voice of Neale open up the narrative, bringing one irresistible hook in voice alone to the chorus. The absorbing song continues to hug the web of guitar intrigue and craft wrapping ears, its reflective elegance a warm breeze eventually heading into a more rugged wind of energy and intensity to bring even greater pleasure. The track is a fine end to a thoroughly engaging release.
Produced by Romesh Dodangoda (Kids In Glass Houses/Funeral For A Friend), Hunter |Gatherer is a highly satisfying next step for Calling Apollo. It comes loaded with potential and a hope that the band really kicks on and boldly explores their already quite individual sound. Those hints of uniqueness within the release, combined with more familiar yet potent influences, makes EP and band a must check out recommendation.
Hunter |Gatherer is available now via Signal and the Noise Records via https://callingapollo.bandcamp.com/album/hunter-gatherer
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