With 2010 debut album Swimming with Sharks, UK melodic rockers The First stirred up a fair bit of acclaim and support for their lively and potent sound, a strong reputation garnered as equally through their energetic and raucous live performances. The band now returns with new full-length release Take Courage, an album which builds on that very solid start with a clutch of fiery well-crafted songs. It is an encounter which will only enhance their status and fanbase even though in many ways what is impressively on offer is hardly breaking into new avenues of adventure and originality.
Hailing from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, the quintet of vocalist Benny Salter, guitarists Tim Crane and Ben Knowles, bassist Adam Masters, and drummer Rob Knight instantly leap upon the ear through the thumping invitation of opener There’s No Place, a start which soon evolves into a riotous brawl upon the senses with rhythms cutting off all retreat and guitars taunting with sonic enterprise. The song soon settles into an adrenaline driven flight of intensive pop rock with a strong punk breath to its rapacious intent. With great vocals from Salter supported by the rest of the band and the guitars carving bright acidic designs around the continuing to challenge rhythms, the song is a richly satisfying if expected blaze.
The single from the album Take It Back launches at the listener next and immediately raises the stakes of the encounter. Riffs tower above their recipient with predatory expertise whilst the rhythms whip the ear with precise and venomous skill, both elements fused into the dramatic temptation of the song and then wrapped in the tight melodic invention and contagious grooves which fight for airspace within the brewed aggressive maelstrom. Each receives their clarity though and combine for an incendiary explosion of adventure and excellence which in hindsight actually makes the rest of Take Courage play under a slight anti-climactic cloud.
In saying that the likes of the explosive Dare I Say I Ruined Everything and the provocative Monster leave nothing less than full satisfaction in their wake, it is just that they lack that killer touch, the dramatic spark to ignite the passions and lingering memory for their persuasion. The second of the two offers a strong flame of guitar carved enterprise within a sinew clad presence which takes little time in securing the submission of feet and thoughts, whilst the continuing to impress vocals, singular and as a crowded narrative, are equally as pleasing and potent.
Through the title track with its stirring anthemic choruses and melodic spires leading to those pinnacles, and the feisty Shark Attack whose thumping start gets the senses and passions embroiled in an intent to stomp, though the song then teases by relaxing time and again between building up those fighting crescendos, the band continues to incite nothing less than full attention for a satisfied appetite whilst William which features guest Elissa Franceschi, lays down an emotive landscape which increases its hold and seduction further once both vocalists unite in an intense tonic of a finale.
Love Regret Forgive Forget provides the album with a final anthemic enslavement for the emotions, its muscular and intimidating rhythmic and guitar caging a platform for the vocals and the passion of the song to explore their individual textures and depths. As infectious as anything on the album and not far from the heights of Take It Back, the song still shows little to sets it apart from numerous other impressive and skilled artists, something which the album falls under too ultimately despite its very enjoyable presence.
The evocative ballad Tonight Tonight brings the Destroy Everything released album to a more than decent if pale end; the CD of the release also offering the bonus song Enough Is Never Enough which though crafted with care and imagination and is certainly pleasing is a shadow of what came before. Overall though Take Courage is a thoroughly enjoyable album, just not one which ignites enough triggers for the passions to fully engulf its creative offering. Listening to the heart drenched songs though you can easily see why The First is raising such positive and eager responses with a sound which will appeal to fans of the likes of Deaf Havana, Mallory Knox, and Lower Than Atlantis with ease.
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