With a sound laying somewhere between metalcore and post hardcore, UK hailing Seconds Alive provide us with one interesting and firmly enjoyable confrontation with new EP Bitter Moments. Consisting of six tracks pouring out emotional torment and ire within technical scenery that is never less than captivating, the release makes a solid case to take the Exeter quartet’s under attention’s wing, though not the reason to get over excited for their open potential quite yet.
Formed in 2014, Seconds Alive have spent the past eighteen months brewing up a potent reputation across the South West of England, spreading outwards through an intensive live presence which has seen them play with the likes of with Idiom, I Divide, and Heck (formerly Baby Godzilla), and release a small clutch of singles. Now it is the turn of Bitter Moments to try and awaken stronger attention, success easy to see happening though maybe not to the extent that it is easy to feel was within the band’s grasp.
One of the prime reasons for that missed opportunity feeling is that despite the obvious talent and craft on show within the band, the EP lacks a certain spark to immediately elevate it out of the writhing throng of similarly sounding, genre bred bands. Close focus reveals they do have the imagination but in a time where attention in music is at best a fleeting breath in so many, Seconds Alive have not yet discovered, certainly here, that swift ‘hook’ to standout right away. The other element we would suggest the band might gain by looking into is the vocals. We have read many landing blows of displeasure upon the delivery of Robert Doran, something we cannot align to, the frontman has a good presence and attack but does, with great raw expression and emotion, only and repetitively offer exactly what is assumedly wanted in their raw style of music. The issue is again that his delivery easily slips into the crowd at the moment, another with an attack which never ventures too far from the caustic roar that as a style is becoming expectation feeding and thus frustratingly predictable for personal tastes. Hopefully though, the fact that Bitter Moments truly comes alive and steps out of the shadows when a diversity of vocals is released to match the busy sounds around them will not escape him and the band and spark adventure in that area ahead.
As said, it is always down to personal tastes though and there is no denying that EP opener Red Blood has ears on alert from its first sonic breath in all departments, especially once the guitar of James Hosgood begins his web of melodic and enterprising endeavour contrasting perfectly with the ruggedly aggressive rhythmic and vocal tempest quickly brewed. The bass of Rich Earle is especially carnivorous in tone whilst the beats of Rach Adams resonate with every impact without disrupting the contagious energy and craft fuelling the track. The fingers of Hosgood are as nimble as they are busy, and as elegant in touch as they are grouchy in craft to match and encourage the song’s growth in character.
It is a potent start taken up by Where Are You Going With This, another where musically the band is unafraid to twist and turn in their interpretation and use of familiar metal hues, though maybe again not bold enough at times. Vocally Doran again hits the mark in his angst driven, anger soaked delivery; never turning away from that singular attack but in a song swift in time more than playing his part in a potently satisfying incitement.
It is fair to say that the elements mentioned earlier which are lacking only really come to impacting light through latest single Drawing The Line, and because it does offer the essences to create something singularly potent. Opening on a more classic metal seeded lure aided by a great bestial tone from the bass, the track leaps into a regular metalcore proposal though again Hosgood is weaving tasty designs. It is the unexpected turn into a punk infused passage of virulent rock ’n’ roll guided by great clean vocals and hungry rhythms that things explode. An atmospheric aside shows adventure, if seeming a little out of place, but also reveals an experimentation and boldness of ideation that outshines the plainer metalcore causticity around it and of other songs on the release.
Upon Yourself steps up next and also impresses most dramatically when it employs cleaner vocals within an imaginative hug of sound, though also to be fair, the track is a tempest of craft and enterprise that might not lift the band’s too far away from a host of like sounding bands, but has ears keenly gripped throughout .
The slow emotive instrumental of Speechless engages the imagination next, its post rock lit coaxing a captivating suggestiveness reinforcing the evidence that this is band whose individuals can compose and play to the highest level. It haunting ambience leads into the ferocious throat of closer Jenna, a wind of squirming guitar imagination and emotive turmoil that easily invites if not overly excites ears, it again missing that indefinable element to prevent it quite reaching its potential.
A release for fans of bands such as While She Sleeps, August Burns Red, and Architects, Bitter Moments is a strong step in the growth of Seconds Alive that definitely courts attention and support. With personal hopes that they will get even bolder in composition and diverse in voice to forge their own unique identity, our expectations are that this quartet has a rather healthy future ahead of them.
The Bitter Moments EP is released October 30th through all stores.
Pete Ringmaster 29/10/2015
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