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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Held By Horses: In History

Held By Horses is a quintet from Chelmsford in the UK which is starting to turn heads their way with strong and impressively delivered rock music. The Essex female fronted band now builds on their already rising stock with the release of their new EP In History. Consisting of five songs which grab attention and feed the desire for vibrant and well crafted songs, the EP without arguably bringing new startling detours in the direction of rock music, leaves one fully satisfied and looking forward to watching and hearing the future of this promising band.

Forming in the opening weeks of 2011, the band soon had their debut EP rampaging in ears and since have lit up stages alongside the likes of Mallory Knox, Mystery Jets, Johnny Get The Gun, and Our People Versus Yours. Produced by Dan Lancaster (Lower Than Atlantis, Mallory Knox), In History is their next impressive step in a steady rise as the band works their way to the fore of national recognition.

To swiftly get the obvious comment out of the way when listening to the EP, it has to be said the surface sound of the band though impressive is not groundbreaking. With other great emerging bands such as Leopards, Never The Last Breath, and Hitchcock Blonde to name just three treading the same field of sound, there is a familiar feel across them all. This makes initial impressions less dramatic then maybe is deserved and only with a closer inspection does the craft and skill of the individual come out as with Held By Horses. The trouble for bands is how many have that intent and patience? Saying that though, the band does have an emerging style which is maybe more suggested right now but it is there and destined to evolve ahead.

The release opens with You Win Some, You Lose Some. It is a song which initially under whelms with the main reason being that the vocals of Harriet Reynolds are lost within the mass of the music. It is like she is veiled but thankfully as the rest of the EP explodes in the ear her great voice and delivery is allowed the clarity to shine and hit home with vigour and passion. The song itself is a pleasing if not adventurous companion and certainly keeps one happy to check out the rest of the release.

The following Little Water is soon putting the opener in the shade. Immediately the vocal harmonies sweep one up in their charms and the incisive groove which follows has one eagerly ready to feast upon the song. The early sonic grip leads into energetic guitar play from Kyle Ginn and Will Smith which switches from a more expansive wash back to the tighter acidic groove and back throughout. Lively and persistent the song is sure to be an explosive live favourite and sets the release on track to ignite deeper pleasures.

As great as the previous track is the best song on the release steps up next in the fiery shape of The Last Word. Featuring the vocals of Renz Byrne from Never Means Maybe alongside Reynolds, the track is a feisty rampage of dusty melodics speared by thumping rhythms from drummer Scott Dillon. The muscular bass lines of Charlie O’Halloran under pin the smouldering guitar melodics and hooks perfectly to give a depth to the stirring breath of the song but it is midway when Byrne joins Reynold that glorious sparks fly, their union dazzling and impossible not to be enamoured by. The song is mighty in power and emotion, and of all the songs shows the depth of promise within the band and their writing.

     Down And Out has the envious job of following and does a fine job, the song a thumping treat of energies, air scorching melodics, and captivating vocals. It leads one keenly into the closing Virtues, another song which only has good thoughts going its way. Lively with a Paramore pop rock kiss to its attack, the song ticks all the boxes to leave one smiling. Inventive and impressively delivered it makes a strong end to a more than decent release.

In History is a strong and pleasing release showing a band finding impressive form and promise. Yes the release does not really standout on its own amongst many other similarly fuelled bands but one senses that will come. Held By Horses ensures the company of the EP is gratifying and enjoyable, really all that ever matters surely.

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RingMaster 15/09/2012

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The City Divided – The Endless Moment EP

Released August 6th, The Endless Moment EP from UK pop metalers (yep the term made us shudder too) The City Divided is a rather impressive little creature which arguably sets greater promise for the band ahead than marks them as a major force right now. The reason for this is that though the four track release is startling at times and always intriguingly compulsive it also raises a few questions. Where it works which is in many places, it is an exciting and striking piece of work but there are moments where one is not sure where the band is going or their intent musically, and once or twice one asks if even the band are sure.

It should be noted at this point that we thoroughly enjoyed The Endless Moment despite what one hesitates to call ‘flaws’ raising uncertainty at times. The promo sheet for the release states the band with the EP ‘served up a resourceful slice of modern rock stirring the sounds of such bands as Busted, Dead By April, Iron Maiden, and Enter Shikari into the melting pot.’ A combination to inspire the listener or make them hide behind the sofa and it is this eclectic mix which leaves the biggest question mark over the band, their music encapsulating those and more in flavour to leave one unsure of what is in the thoughts of the band. For the main it does work and at times magnificently, it is just that the ‘confused’ blend at times makes one feel this could have been a classic with more control and a more puritanical hand on their ideas.

Since forming in 200, the quartet of vocalist/guitarist Alex Choo, guitarist Ash Maxwell, bassist James Langbridge, and drummer Alfie Powell, have built a strong and firmly growing following though their live shows which has seen them share stages with bands like We Are The Ocean, My Passion, Never Means Maybe, Heights, Fell Silent and The Eyes Of A Traitor. Their single Blue recorded with Dan Lancaster (Proceed) drew good acclaim something which The Endless Moment again recorded with Lancaster is sure to accelerate. It is an EP which crosses sub genres to offer something for many brought with a musicianship and accomplishment which is undeniable.

The release opens with Can’t Stop Their Laughing, a track which instantly sets the band apart. Off of an emotive piano caress and the great voice of Choo the song flexes its muscles with rippling riffs, firm rhythms and a shadowing glow of keys. It does not take long to notice the quality of the guitar work with the bass of Langbridge adding a depth with his instinctive presence within the craft of Choo and Maxwell. With stirring metal elements and scorching guitar strikes coming in behind the dual and varied clean vocals the track ups its intensity and adds dirty growls to the mix. This unfortunately does not work and as following songs show it is a mistake which threatens to derail the fine work already created. Thankfully here it is a brief and the beauty of the song spreads its wings as it progresses to make for a heated and very pleasing beginning.

Next up Higher Ground electrifies the atmosphere with sharp melodic guitar play and a brewing energy. It does not take long before the flat growls come in and one is again deflated. The clean and smooth vocals with Choo backed by Maxwell and Powell are outstanding whilst the scowling shouts work a treat throughout the whole release but the hardcore delivery is a mistake, a move which hopefully they review. The song has a classic metal feel which reminds of bands like Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold at times and is a boisterous riot combined with further strong passionate melodic enterprise. Though one hates to use the word pop it is bordering that field too but with a steel and bruising intent to keep it valid.

Though not as impressive as the opener the song is more than decent and matched by Watching The World Burn. The song has a more electro breath and is a restful piece of songwriting brought with a craft and air which is easy to immerse within. Again it does not light raging fires but shows the diversity and skill of the band perfectly and works well with its more singular direction. Its intelligent invention leads into the best track Waiting At The Gates, a bruising melodic metalcore beast. Once more the extreme vocals fall at the first hurdle but the rest of the track is a mighty and explosive piece of metal, the technical prowess and merciless aggression veined with strong melodic touches immense. Taste hopes the band explore this more in their future as the band have a real feel for the combination of extremes proven with this song.

The Endless Moment is a definite marker for a band more than likely to light up UK metal ahead whilst giving strong satisfaction in the here and now, even if it also leaves one with many thoughts.

www.thecitydivided.com

RingMaster 02/08/2012

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