Dead City Souls – Album Review 15/07/14

 

The first serious release from one of the most in-demand bands on the local music scene, I can only hope the energy they portray on the mini-release is representative of them, because I imagine they need it – on the weekend of the release for the EP alone the five-piece ensemble played three shows – two on the same day: an apt insight into their full schedule.

The EP itself is well poised and extremely well produced, the levels are more or less perfect for the most part – my only quarrel may be that the vocals seem a little underpowered in the odd place; the production quality comes as no surprise – recorded in Tunstall’s Summer Bank Studios on our own doorstep.

The first track on the EP is but a tool to build anticipation – entitled Embark, it features no vocals, however it does feature a well-constructed arrangement of clean-cut guitar and an occasional kick against a bass drum seemingly dropped in to mimic a heartbeat: perhaps slightly cliché, but it does help to create some tension and engages as it intrigues – it serves as an adequate intro to the album, making you sit up and pay attention to what is about to come.

Back against, is the first actual anthem on the self-named EP, and the contrast between the intro and this is stark, after a short intro section the lads waste no time running straight into a heavy rhythm which is complimented well by some very hearty vocals courtesy of front-man Jay Davies, his vocal style is not too dissimilar from that of M. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold). The song is solid, however it can get a little repetitive – even though it’s catchy it seems too familiar – there are no instrumental hooks but you probably will find yourself singing along even on your first play through.

The third track is almost certainly my favourite, multiple changes of rhythm and tempo makes it impossible not to take note, and opens up with an almost pop-punk dialect and you feel the energy immediately, the verses are pacey and unrelenting – to the point where just listening to the song is increasing my typing speed. The chorus feels like a breakdown with a nice rhythmical beat and some thumping of the toms, it’s a nice track and epitomises the aforementioned energy the band has.

Save me, is another good song, a real clean nice underlying guitar hook sits underneath, and I admit to finding myself humming it on a couple of occasions, is contrasts well with the vocal talent on show, the vocals keep quite a slow tempo, where the instrumental pace frequents. Save me is a really nice filler track, a song that seems to just seem quite pretentious at first but really does grow on you with a familiar charm and it truly will burrow itself into your mind to the point where it may start to irritate – but aren’t they always the best songs?

The fifth installation is entitled Say Goodnight – it’s unspectacular and quite simple in its construction, but again it’s solid and fit for purpose, it wouldn’t be out of place in an old need for speed game alongside some forgotten B-side from Bullet for my Valentine. It’s the kind of song that can just play in the background and you won’t really notice. On a positive note: there’s a really nice chunky 30 second instrumental pinned in the middle which demonstrates a certain finesse with their instruments but that’s as good as it gets, it’s not bad song, it just feels a bit safe compared to what’s come before it on this release, perhaps I was just being a little over-expectant because the previous tracks were so good.

Hurt no More is a 5+ minute epic, and ‘epic’ isn’t simply an adjective to describe the length of the song – but also the quality of it. Instrumentally perfect with a strong, thumbing pulse running through it; making you nod along like a Churchill dog in an earthquake. Again it echoes a style similar to Avenged Sevenfold, Jay displays a nice range in his vocals once more hitting about five notes just in his verbalisation of the word ‘I’ in the chorus, a real nice fist-pumping anthem that simply lifts the release up in terms of quality.

The final foray into the EP is named Watch the World Burn… Which is… Nice? It’s a befitting ending, where the instruments take centre stage, the intro is over a quarter of the track in length before any lyrics are uttered, but when they are, the song erupts with pace and power again demonstrating the energy the band embed into their songs. The song has everything required to open a set, it builds atmosphere and excitement with the length intro and when it kicks, it just releases such energy.

Overall, the EP massively surpassed any expectation I had from a band little of a year old since their formation, but that is what is appealing about them – there is more to come. They are raw, they are certainly extremely talented, and the effort put into this release is clear and abundant but the final product is far beyond the sum of its parts. It really is an epic and is a clear reason why they are so in-demand at the moment, It’s not often that you hear a local band that releases a locally produced EP that is the same calibre of that you could buy from a mass produced record company – it’s a release to be proud of and I can’t wait to hear more.

 

Nathe Owen

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