Greater Than is the second studio album from five-piece rock band, SHVPES. The band from Birmingham, UK are growing fast with their first single from this album, Undertones, proving to be a big hit amongst fans, so much so that the release of the album was brought forward. The new album features Matt Heafy of Trivium – one of SHVPES’ biggest inspirations – collaborates on the song, Rain, and Rosanne Hamilton on War.

SHVPES explore a range of sounds and textures across the album. With heavier guitar sections and bass drops, reminiscent of progressive metal, merging with synths and pop elements, they have created a dramatic album. The album has an explosive start with Calloused Hands. The heavy guitar tones and bass create a dark tone to the track which is embellished through soaring synth lines. This gives their sound a wide scape; it creates a full sound with each individual instrumental layer showing off a certain tone and texture clearly within the mix. The vocal lines sit in a complementary position amongst the instrumentation. The combination of clean and harsh vocals also adds to the sound. Griffin Dickinson’s lead vocals carry a distinctive texture that suits the heavy instrumentation style and also the wide variety of synths used.

Someone Else enters rap-metal territory with significant rap sections and heavy, bouncing guitar licks. Popular culture influences also seem prevalent with female backing vocals and sexually-themed vocals, and the overall effect is an aggressive, high energy track that diverts from other pieces on the album. The inclusion of spoken word and almost operatic sections really takes this track beyond expectations. Two Wrongs, No Rights continues the popular music and unexpected theme with a short R’n’B interlude. It complements the previous track and shows off the band’s versatility and open mindedness to the inclusion of other genres but interpreted in their own style. The slower, more relaxed atmosphere forms an interlude from the energetic nature of the majority of the tracks on this album.

Rain is the heaviest track on the album and opens explosively with Matt Heafy’s vocals and an energetic guitar riff. Heavy distortion alternates with sparser synth sections emphasizing the build up to the chorus. The dark, bass tone of the synths used in this track has a strong atmospheric effect. Contrasting a high-pitched synth melody line over harsh vocals creates an interesting juxtaposition of childlike nursery melodies and heavy influences. This track is full of contrasts and juxtapositions which create an intricate arrangement of instrumental layers. Combining so many ideas into a single track runs the risk of creating a messy, overly complicated sound. However, each section of the track feels perfectly balanced and the various instrumental sections segue seamlessly into each other, whilst the overall track remains cohesive.

War, featuring Rosanne Hamilton, includes some creepy synth melodies interspersed throughout the track. This motif takes what would be a generic rock track and turns it into something extra. Adding unusual motifs and sounds is something SHVPES execute effectively across all of their tracks. Using a variety of tones and textures to enhance their writing has assisted in the development of their unique sound. Counterfeit concludes the album. Opening with a satirical automated phone call, this track continues the theme of underlining satire and humour that has been subtly running through aspects of this album in the form of explicit lyrics. Short, aggressive guitar rhythms, edgy vocals and group backing create a high energy track with a political / social edge. The rap section leading into a heavy breakdown shows off the heavier side of SHVPES and ends the album abruptly but dramatically.

The wide mixture of sounds and styles explored across the album appear random and just weird at times – but it works. SHVPES’ unique sound comes through in each style they explore, and that cohesiveness is what holds the album together. The wide variety is interesting to listen to, and although not all tracks will appeal to everyone, there is something for lovers of a wide range of genres on this release.

8/10

For fans of: SikTh, Trivium, Architects
Words by Holly Royle

‘Greater Than’ by SHVPES is released on 9th November on Spinefarm Records.

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