Subset: new hints and ferocious horizons


    SUBSET London shot March 2014

    Subset has been to the fore of the UK underground scene almost from their initial emergence in 2009 through their continually inventive and diverse noise bred encounters. Each of their eight releases has been dramatic in not only presence but the continuing evolution and sparking imagination charging through their sound. Last album Loverdose is a fine example, the naggingly intriguing and explosive release as unpredictable as it was resourceful, fusing thick essences of rock, metal, and punk into tracks which left expectations floundering and passions hungrier. It took the band’s reputation to yet another level, providing one more major step in their ascent but we have the confidence to say it was only the appetiser to even greater glories.

The reason for that claim is a track called Roughened, a brand new song from the band which we have the pleasure and honour of getting a sneak preview of. Such its potent and striking impact we thought we would look at a comparison between the track and a couple from Loverdose, looking at another twist in the growth of Subset and their incendiary songwriting as well as a potential breakthrough into international recognition which the song alone suggests is possible, yes it is that potent.

Between them Carnage and Bayonet from Loverdose give a full picture of the album and Subset’s sound at that moment in time. The first of the two flies at the senses on a surge of punk and grunge infused rock with a melodic seducing which wraps sensuous persuasion round senses and imagination. Guitars and bass offer a persistent snarl and insatiable predation which the rhythms whip up into a greater frenzy, All the time though a Buzzcocks like lure winds its bait around ears and imagination. The song merges a further raw and caustic breath into the mix, inciting the senses and imagination into assuming you think the band was at their pinnacle. That was until Roughened infected body and soul.

As rhythms thump down with a strength and intent which arguably has never been more dramatic and imposing from the band, and Romain Daste’s excellently expressive vocals combine with rich predatory growling riffs to steal a greater slice of an instantly awoken imagination, the punk heart of the band roars as never before in the new track. That is only part of the story though as the previous grunge and rock pop elements of the band which have certainly not been abandoned find themselves redefined as a fiercer noise and psyche rock charge of invention. Contagion is as virulent as ever but courted by a definite post punk temptation and an overall greater voraciousness which has been thickened and almost carnally fortified in the songwriting.

Bayonet from the previous album showed a harsher side of the band, merging melodic rock and punk infused metallic essences into a scuzz blessed provocation which was unafraid to entice with rapier tendrils of sonic noise whilst preying on and snuggling up to the senses with raucous noise and tempting melodies respectively. It was a proposition which gnawed and flamed at ears whilst teasing them with pop rock wantonness and now Roughened employs much of the same web of sound but twists it into a more incisive and riveting furnace of raptorial ingenuity whilst adding richer strains of garage punk and alternative metal. It is crafted and delivered in a greatly maturer blaze of craft, invention, and instinctive devilry; Subset and songwriting at their most inventive and exploratory it is easy to say.

As much as the two older songs and Loverdose as a whole impressed, hindsight showed they only hinted at the new mouthwatering and breath-taking alchemy that runs through Roughened. The track is quite brilliant and just the start as the band has numerous more juicy provocations waiting to mark a new horizon in the journey of Subset. We cannot wait and suggest you keenly watch this space as fans and newcomers to the band are in for something special we suggest, Roughened our undeniable evidence.


Pete RingMaster

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Subset – Loverdose

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    Loverdose is one of those great albums which niggles and teases thoughts and senses from start to finish, an expectations dismissing treat which leaves you at the mercy of unpredictability and to varying degrees imaginative adventure. The eighth release from UK noise band Subset, the album is an intriguing and generally enthralling encounter which blends in so many aspects of rock, metal, and punk that it need a mouthful of labels to tag, which of course is never a bad thing.

Subset is a band which if passion meant success would be giants by now, from their first shows in 2009 performing with no money or resources and subsequently playing their first tour a year later by carrying all their equipment and travelling by bus to each venue, the quartet showed their determination. Through gigs, tracks and singles the band continued to build a powerful reputation for their energy and inventive sound whilst the Mahogany and Drenched EPs saw the band garner acclaim even further afield within the UK and US media. From the release of Drenched, vocalist/guitarist Romaine Date, guitarist Robert Robertson, bassist Jay Garrett, and drummer Arran Topper Hartley, embarked on an exhausting regime of touring, promoting, and pushing the presence of Subset further, which included last year a trip to Los Angeles to strengthen contacts and industry links as well as develop an even stronger presence across the Californian college circuit. Loverdose is the next step in their irresistible rise and though arguably its strength labours a little towards its conclusion, the fifteen track provocation is a captivating feast of grunge, punk, alternative rock, and muscular abrasiveness.

From the enticing if eventually underwhelming instrumental In The Patient’s Waiting Room, the release explodes into aggravated  a0341197128_2enterprise with the roar in the face Carnage, a track which offers scathing vocals alongside mellow harmonies and a tank full of belligerent riffs, thumping rhythms, and coaxing melodic temptation over a punkish snarl. With a Buzzcocks like hook sneakily playing within the more caustic play of guitar and bass there is a persistent lure which marks all great songs whilst the mix of vocal delivery keeps the listener on their toes and fully engaged. The inventive and tauntingly shifting gait of the song furthers its intense appeal and makes a formidable full start to the release.

This great beginning is soon taken further by firstly the excellent Explode, a revolving twist of punk and grunge. It fires up the senses immediately with an aggressive punk probing before slipping into an irresistible psychedelic /grunge whispering range of rock ‘n’ roll which before returning to its raging snarl offers a QOTSA toned excuse to find extra lust for its imaginative presence. Its heights are then seriously tested and stretched by the scintillating Bayonet, the track emerging from a riveting drum tempting into another rock/punk persuasion with extra garage tendencies scuzzing up the air. Feeling like Everclear meets The St Pierre Snake Invasion, the song swaggers and saunters through the ear with a devilment that easily takes controls of limbs and passions, guitars and rhythms carving their permanence in thoughts whilst the bruising vocals dance over the thrilling noise sculpted fire.

Both Jaguar’s Spin and the title track continue the sonic fascination with expertise and ingenuity, the first bringing sinewy riffs in union with a gentle yet forceful melodic flame of guitar grazing and muscular rhythmic framing. Once the riffs develop a chugging insistence, the face of the song changes, though it refuses to relinquish that excellent tempering charm instead allowing it another sultry platform to capture the imagination all over again. Its successor is pure infection, hooks and grooves in mischievous intent with the rhythms to seduce body and voice into a mutual show of energetic contribution. With discord again stroking notes and sounds into eccentric bewitchment and a chorus call that is pure virulence in its simplicity wrapped by an equally potent hook, the track is pure contagion and another big highlight of the release met and matched by next up I’m A Hero In My Mind. With rhythmic juggling from Hartley and rumbling taunting from the bass of Garrett instantly enslaving the passions, the song excites with a siren like mix of Melvins and Late Cambrian, noise pop unafraid to explore a wealth of flavours and spices to create something unique and epidemically solicitous.

From the heavyweight Walk Elephants, its stomping imprint from the intense paws of rhythms ridden by another immediate lure in the gravel weighted vocals, things begin to lose the earlier strength and grip on the passions though there is never a wasted moment offered. This track continues to spiral its way towards sparking a healthy appetite though the vocal approach leaves a weakness at times within the intensive proposition. The likes of the breath stealing punk honed abrasion I Don’t Want To Go Back Home and the similarly uncompromisingly sculpted Second Nature certainly fire up extra hunger for the release, the second especially discovering a hardcore grunt which leaves additional rapture, but as the likes of Remember The Sun, The Man Who Drunk Cried, and Sung, and especially the closing Last Seconds Before Dying Alone make their offering to the ear the album feels like it has lost some of its potency. Each subsequent track though has moments which leave lingering pleasure as with the almost early Adam and the Ants stance sounding introduction and the following darker toned vocals of the first of this trio and the Reuben like bite of its successor, but generally the spark which lit up the rest of the album is missing and one wonders if a different layout of the tracks may have prevented this feeling as the songs certainly leave a happy taste on the senses.

The Underly Records/Reality Records/Venombase Records released Loverdose is a great album overall and one which suggests that Subset have all the invention, craft, and instinctive ability to excite the passions to be a major player in UK rock in the near future. The serious rise of the band starts here and what an impressive turn of the ignition it is.


RingMaster 27/07/2013

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