The reception that MSRY’s Safety First EP received last year was undoubtedly impressive, given that they were a relatively unknown band at the time looking to break into a hardcore scene that’s been having some serious trouble with holding itself together under its own weight. But Safety First was genuinely good enough to rise above those hurdles, and though it hasn’t made its creators household names just yet, slots with the likes of Employed To Serve and Cancer Bats alongside actual radio play feel like an auspicious next step indeed. As such, Loss feels like a potential capper on a period where MSRY can realistically be called up-and-comers, and where they can graduate to the new breed of UK hardcore superstars, provided they can keep up the same drive with this newest release.
Then again, that might be a tad optimistic at this stage, as Loss isn’t so much of a leap forward as it is a hammering down of what MSRY have already got and what they’ve been good at for a while now. That is to say, Loss is definitely solid for the mould of more melodic yet still formidable UK hardcore that it fits into, but it’s not the sort of thing that batters the door down as MSRY had hinted at before. It’s definitely playing towards those bigger intentions above anything else, and while the success it has at that is undeniable, the smoothening and tidying up of frayed edges that appears to have gone on between this and its predecessor isn’t the greatest look for a band like this. What they’ve got is still good, but they’ve done this exact sort of thing better in the past.
It’s mainly a case of how MSRY have acclimatised to their growing profile that’s perhaps where Loss has suffered the most, particularly in the production and how there’s a definite accentuation of smoothness and size than before. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, and it does lend a hefty amount of power to a track like Imposter that relies on its huge grooves to hit as hard as it does, but the more rounded guitars and bass don’t have the same crunch to them and lose some of the ragged appeal that Safety First had. It’s not even like MSRY have slid straight into a mainstream space or anything; it’s arguably similar to where Stick To Your Guns have ended up recently in their embrace of bounding punk tones, but the increased polish and production cleanliness doesn’t really do them a lot of favours.
That’s a shame too, because at the beating heart of it all is a hardcore band that’s more than capable of tapping into that rough, ragged fury, with enough evidence here to show how good they can be. The fact that Kial Churcher is able to hold his own vocally against Cancer Bats’ Liam Cormier on Still Breaks My Heart already stacks him up high in terms of estimations, but there’s consistent strength to his performance that’s able to channel bleeding emotion and vulnerability as well as anger and frustration that makes for some impressive malleability. And as is often the case with hardcore like this, anthemic quality does play a considerable role in MSRY’s arsenal, as the likes of Gemini and Guilt use their imposing size to their advantage, and the title track dips into shots of punk adrenaline for a break from the norm that’s definitely welcome. It’s worth noting the writing as well, in that the ambiguity of the theme of loss is kept that way to preserve its universality, and while that can frequently be a cop-out for not delving into the deeper reaches of what such themes can achieve (which, even with this EP, isn’t an unfair assumption to make), MSRY can sell it with enough passion and conviction to deliver an affecting result regardless.
It’s what makes the seeming reticence to go further so frustrating; MSRY have the means to do far more within hardcore as far as channelling a more ferocious sound goes, and while there are flashes of what that can do on Loss, it primarily feels like a case of conjecture to fill in the gaps. And this is not a bad EP, that needs to be stressed, but for a band like MSRY who displayed such promise when they let their snarling, gnashing side loose, tempering that for a solid yet glaringly flawed release like this doesn’t feel like the best use of their skill set. It’s certainly worth a listen, if only to see where such a continual evolution is taking this band next, but there’s a lot more that can be done before the next time comes around.
For fans of: Stick To Your Guns, Comeback Kid, Cancer Bats
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Loss’ by MSRY is released on 8th November.