Album Review: Colourwave // Belau

Belau are making waves. Having been featured both on MTV and KEXP,  the electronic duo from Budapest are back with a new album, ‘Colourwave.’ It’s a beautiful listen, with plenty of ambient textures.

I think what makes this album shine is the colourful production. There’s African-influenced sounds on ‘Risk It All’ which make me think of a walk in a sunny area. The handclaps also work very well because they could demonstrate unity and togetherness.

It is clear that Zero 7 influence Belau’s sound. Sophie Barker lends her voice on ‘Essence’. It has a beautiful guitar line running through the song, while Sophie’s voice is phenomenal on this track. The chilling vocal production works because the reverb and echo represent the protagonist being trapped.

The drum production is phenomenal because they make the tracks sound big. On ‘Breath’ it makes the song sound huge, with the bells and xylophone. There is also a huge array of vocal talent, with Sophie Lindinger’s vocals making the song shine brightly.  ‘Natural Pool’ is an instrumental song with samples of flowing water. This fits in with the ambience, while I love the chopped up samples because they make me feel relaxed.

Overall, ‘Colourwave’ is a calming listen and perfect for anyone who has had a stressful day. The production is immaculate because it draws from a variety of influences, and the vocal talent is exceptional.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Album Review: Still Believe in Rock N’Roll // The Wild!

The Wild! have taken influence from AC/DC and classic rock on their thrilling new album, ‘Still Believe in Rock N’Roll. Its a fun album because it has all the excess of the 70s and gives it a fresh modern twist.

I love this album because there’s no filler. Every song pulls you into kickass riffs and there’s so much passion and authenticity. I like the messages in the songs too; for instance ‘Nothin’ Good Comes Easy’ tells me that hard work and perseverance will get you to where you want to be.

I love music because it’s an escape from reality. When I listen to Still Believe in Rock N’ Roll, I’m in awe of the energy and spirit The Wild! have. Even though 2020 has been a barren year so far in more ways than one, it’s great that this album offers some positivity and energy to brighten things up.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Album Review: Fire by the Silos // Toska

‘Fire By the Silos’, the debut album by Brighton progressive metal band Toska, is a concept album about humans and different aspects of the world. It’s about a man who loses everything due to both the political and economic change. The band say that the album “attempts to describe the psychological and emotional torment” that this man suffers, and I am curious how they will bring these feelings out into the music.

This album is an instrumental album, and I love instrumental music. I feel that songs without words bring out the atmosphere even more. So the first thing I noticed with the album was the heavy crushing production, which matches the theme perfectly. In particular on the opening track ‘The Herd’, the brutal crushing guitars could represent the shock this man feels that his life, as well as the other inhabitants, has suddenly fallen apart. Sometimes with progressive music, because it is so challenging it can take time to ease into. Not this. This immediately sucks you into its bleak vortex.

 

There are some strong riffs on here, for instance on ‘Abomasum’ where the descending chords show that this futuristic world is reduced to nothing, bringing out the feelings of anxiety to the fore. It stirs the emotions instantly, making for a gripping and chilling listen. The album as a whole represents anger, unrest, and chaos in its downtuned riffs. There’s a cinematic influence from Hans Zimmer, which I approve of and definitely adds to the emotional soundscape.

The title track features a voice, which tells in detail about how the man had everything, and now it’s all lost. The line that stuck with me was: “I was a proud man… or at least I thought I was” because it made me stop and think about how this situation has turned the man’s life upside down. It shows that the band put a lot of thought and care in how they deliver this story.

The final two tracks demonstrate the empty future, in particular, the last track, ‘The Heard’. This sounds like feedback and distorted sounds, with an announcement essentially saying that humans must rebuild their lives. The empty atmosphere is both eerie and creepy, making me imagine a world that has been destroyed by greed and money. It is a forward-thinking album that sent my imagination running wild, which is exactly what a good concept album achieves.

 Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

 

 

 

EP Review: The Free Money EP // Free Money

Free Money is a band from East London, who released their recent EP, ‘The Free Money EP.’ An interesting fact about the band is that they adopt the personas of bankers, allowing them to play with ideas of modernity and power.

I really enjoyed this EP. I felt it had a lot of ambition, with a big, upbeat indie pop sound. The production on ‘U Got Me’ was strong, with the vocals bringing out a lot of emotion in the verse. This transitions into a catchy chorus, which got stuck in my head. Listening to the EP again, it’s very diverse, the distorted guitars in ‘Up in the Sky’ add a darker atmosphere to the EP. It shows the band have a range of influences and there’s something for everyone. ‘I Got U’ has a sassy drumbeat which shows the band at their most ambitious. It’s reminiscent of AM-era Arctic Monkeys, with an ability to try something new. In this case, the band incorporate a saxophone solo, which works very well, bringing out the upbeat feel in the music.

 

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‘Moving On’ is introspective. The vocals, guitars, and the programmed drums are spaced out which I think creates an atmospheric soundscape. At first, I wasn’t keen on the chorus. It didn’t pull me in. But give it time, and it’s reminiscent of Bowie, with positive energy. It shows that a weight has been lifted of the protagonists’ shoulders as he moves into a new situation. The feelgood bassline that goes with the lyrics “I’ve got a feeling that something is changing inside” encapsulates the importance of a fresh start.

‘Everything’s Fine’ is atmospheric, with nothing but a piano and emotional vocals. It waltzes along peacefully, giving the listener the reassurance that everything is going to be okay. I feel that each track conveys the atmosphere of the different points of the relationship. From the murky darkness of ‘Up in the Sky’ to the upbeat positivity of ‘Moving On’, if you give this EP time, it will worm its way into your heart.

 

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

 

Album Review: Forever Marching Backwards // Battalions

Battalions are a metal band based in Hull. Extremely prolific, their approach to metal features a swagger and a heavy inspiration from the likes of Eyehategod. This is evident on the driving riffs and reverberated shrieking vocals on their previous album ‘Moonburn.’ With the band being lauded by the press, they release their brand new album ‘Forever Marching Backwards.’ What is clear on this album is that the production is astounding, bringing out the riffs very nicely.

Like their previous work, ‘Forever Marching Backwards is a brutal sludge assault. The musicianship is huge, where every instrument is crushing and powerful. Chris Fielding (Barbarian Hermit, Conan) produced the album and he makes these melodic riffs shine. An example of this is on the second track, ‘Cities of Ruin.’ It features a catchy riff that slowly gallops along. It is something you can drink a beer or hit a bong to, the adrenaline packing a punch.

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The band affectionately describes the sound on the album as “pure Humber Sludge” and that is what it is. The downtuned riffs on the crushing ‘Goat Feeder’ are reminiscent of the wastelands of Hull, while ‘Tyskie Vampire’ is my favourite song on the record. It sounds like the band had so much fun recording it, with a creative bassline and a crushingly heavy riff. The track itself is about being on tour with their labelmates Pist, in which they dropped cans of Tyskie lager on the floor and sucked the beer dry when they split open!

Phil Wilkinson’s vocals are initially hard to get along with. The first time I heard them, I thought: “what the fuck is this?!” but spend time with the album and you realise that they complement the compelling hooks nicely, matching the grey tone of the music. ‘Brick Hole’ makes the listener want to punch a wall. It is fast and undeniably furious, the chaos is over in just under three minutes. The final track is ‘Devils Footsteps’ which demonstrate Wilkinson’s vocal range coated in a layer of heavy brutal guitars.

‘Forever Marching Backwards’ is a huge record sonically. The drums and guitars are bone-crushingly heavy, but there are big slabs of melody on the record. If you don’t want to suck Tyskie off the floor, then you’ll want to get sucked into this record!

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos