REVIEW ROUND-UP: Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!, Against The Current, Attila

Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!

Gone Are The Good Days

In the actual age since Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! have done anyway, there’s been a notable paradigm shift within their scene that’s been difficult to avoid. That is, of course, the sudden drop-off of A Day To Remember, which may have only reached its nadir a couple of months ago with the release of You’re Welcome, but has been brewing for far longer. In fact, since coming off hiatus last year, the easycore scene that Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! once found themselves as ‘the next big thing’ within is basically nonexistent now. And yet, if there’s one band who could fill the shoes that A Day To Remember have jettisoned, it could be C!NCC!, who’ve gone through roughly the same career arc of a band starting by crudely stitching pop-punk and metalcore together, only to smoothen it out and reshape it over time into something far more robust and even-keeled. It’s not like Gone Are The Good Days breaks that trend either, in which C!NCC! make a triumphant return that really does feel like the definitive version of themselves; you could call it their Homesick, but it’s more akin to What Separates Me From You, for just how much the effort made to craft this ultimate, refined endpoint has sunk in. It’s a factor of putting the greatest focus into the heavy pop-punk side of equation, more akin to Four Year Strong overall where Bertrand Poncet’s full-throated metalcore scream serves more as occasional pieces of garnish overall. It’s a lot more centralised as an approach, but there’s still room to move when it comes to the darker post-hardcore crunch of True Colors, or the great alt-rock turns on Complete You, topped off with a guest spot from The Dangerous Summer’s AJ Perdomo and a saxophone break to round off in what’s easily the most outside-the-box track here. There are flourishes like that all over the album really, mainly in spots of synth or sharper guitar tones to err on the side of pop-centric yet substantive soundscapes that some pop-punk has favoured recently, without straying from the key elements that C!NCC! have established for themselves. This is by far the strongest form of them; the production could do with a bit less compression at times to give these mixes some breathing space, but there’s enough exhilarating heft funnelled through it and paired with huge instrumental presence that does a lot for songs like Marigold and Good Luck. The flaws come through when the progressions get more cumbersome and heavy-handed on the title track and Blame It On This Song, but C!NCC! are skilled enough to skirt around that in a way that doesn’t feel like just avoiding that eventuality by chance, especially when it makes for a tremendous closer like Fin.

It makes it evident that C!NCC! are continuing to reshape themselves like their forebears previously did, to the point where the comparisons to A Day To Remember are yet to be properly shaken off. That’s been true for this band’s whole career though, only now they can pull it off with the tact that it took a while for that band to even develop. That said, the shades of New Found Glory and Neck Deep are similarly noticeable, as C!NCC!’s approach of diving into the melting pot of heavier pop-punk yields a more cohesive end product than even those following their evolution might’ve predicted. That also means the writing will hit some distinct archetypes, in the same vein that most of these genre branches have when exploring the prospect of being frustrated and burned out within a world collapsing around them. It’s not like Gone Are The Good Days is a particular cut above, but it does a great job of hitting in the right places, where opener Bitter will set the tone for tense, teeth-clenched frustration that Poncet’s naturally roughened vocals can sell readily. Similarly, True Colors bears an anger that’s comparable to A Day To Remember’s Better Off This Way, in the surging, seething tone that’s almost more sophisticated than simply dipping into metalcore rage, where screams will sharpen the edges rather than comprise the meat. It works incredibly well for everything that C!NCC! currently have at their disposal, even when balanced out by lighter love songs in Marigold and Tongue Tied, the approach of which, yes, does feel incredibly similar to A Day To Remember. The thing is though, that would be a greater critique if they weren’t so successful at it, and if A Day To Remember hadn’t clearly relinquished their throne for which C!NCC! have jumped at the chance to retake. Somewhat, Gone Are The Good Days comes across as very knowing in that regard, in the biggest leap that C!NCC! have made to date, and potentially the one with the greatest benefit to them. And with that in mind, they’ve done a great job here, as Gone Are The Good Days stands as everything possibly needed to slide into the scene-ruling upper echelon that’s currently looking for its new patron. The work they’ve put in would already imply the next big push is on its way, but the strength of the material alone speaks for itself, in what’s unquestionably C!NCC!’s strongest and most capable work to date.

8/10

For fans of: A Day To Remember, Four Year Strong, New Found Glory

‘Gone Are The Good Days’ by Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! is released on 30th July on Fearless Records.


Against The Current

fever

It’s about time Against The Current came back with new material, but you’ve got to wonder how worthwhile that really is. Given their past work, they can be viewed as prime candidates to be muscled out of the spotlight with any oncoming sea change, something that might have already happened given how muted any anticipation around them has been lately. That also might be a case of them struggling to really do much in the past though, with a brand of pop-rock that was so slick and sanitised, it’s no wonder it’s largely slipped out of mind with only a handful of exceptions. Granted, that probably wouldn’t be an issue if they came about now, given that pop-rock and pop-punk is practically lauded for being as plastic and shallow as possible, but it’s hard to even throw Against The Current in with that crowd when the vast majority of their ‘alternative’ tendencies have become near-nonexistent over time. With that in mind, the fact that fever does lean more towards a darker, harder-edged pop-rock sound can feel calculated—they aren’t above taking those measures, after all—but all the same, the shift isn’t unwelcome. The coursing pace and power is definitely strong, where the guitars are given the most consistent volume they perhaps have ever had on an Against The Current release. The fact that this is an EP helps in terms of condensing the sound, but songs like weapon and again&again are still pretty good on their own merits, more suited to a brand of pop-rock where the edges are a bit sharper to at least attempt to pierce through a still-shatterproof production job. As for Chrissy Costanza, she’s notably far forward within the mix, though for being unquestionably the main draw, it’s not unwarranted. Admittedly she doesn’t have the greatest vocal body when it comes to rowdier numbers—the fact that her Halsey impression of shatter is still the standout performance says a lot with how reserved that song is—but that’s easily remedied by tracks like jump and lullaby and how they make use of some airier soundscapes overall.

In terms of bodies of work, it’s probably Against The Current’s strongest in a long time, though a lot of that can admittedly be attributed to steering clear of how cloyingly sugary their past work could be, without fully abandoning its pop instincts. It’s why the brighter burn it down is the most uncomfortable outlier, where it doesn’t fit with the key ideas that Against The Current are trying to hold onto with this EP. Though, it’s not like fever is a tremendous shake-up on the whole; it’s no more volatile below the surface, and some slightly more pointed lyrical fare in spots won’t carry the weight of an entire reinvention alone. There’s a bit of a political bent to that won’t save us and lullaby, coming through in a turbulent world that seeks to divide more than unite, but you’re not getting more visceral than that, nor do Against The Current bring much more than the ability to craft strong hooks. It’s kind of disappointing in a sense, where so much effort has been made to project a leap into something grittier, and the final product just doesn’t go the extra mile to properly achieve it. Then again, this is Against The Current, a band whose substance has never been something to behold, and at least on fever, the style is something more agreeable that makes better use of their collective strengths as a band, instead of sidelining everyone else behind Costanza more than has already been done. This is still pretty good all the same, in terms of sound, consistency and overall delivery, where it doesn’t have the pop high-points of past albums, but never comes crashing down to such a marked extent either. Basically, it’s the mean average of Against The Current, only given a bit more pizzazz to imply they could still operate in the rock environment. And at the end of the day, the fact it’s pretty good on the whole is at least something to find appreciation in.

6/10

For fans of: Stand Atlantic, PVRIS, Halflives

‘fever’ by Against The Current is out now on Fueled By Ramen.


Attila

Closure

There’s a certain ongoing mental process about whether or not it’s even worth covering this. Oh look, a new Attila album that’ll doubtlessly be the same mouth-breathing deathcore shtick of trying to be as offensive and debauched as possible, and utterly faceplanting when it comes to sounding genuine on either front. In truth though, Attila represent a fascinating case of a band that no one likes and can barely make it past their one singular idea, and yet have somehow farted out nine albums worth of the stuff. At least with a band like Emmure, it’s the sort of meathead jock-metal that, on a very good day, can inspire some kind of primal, visceral response; Attila just sound like they’re ticking boxes at this point, where their limp-wristed attempts at causing offense are just boring and annoying. And that’s all this band are now, to the point where an album called Closure might want to drum up some ideas about being deeper and confessional, but Attila are so one-dimensional and simple-minded that it’s impossible to actually fall for that. They’ll brush against the idea on Anxiety and Broke & Happy with the usual flat lack of real engagement, but the one that stands out most is Clarity, where Fronz seems to conflate any criticism of his and his work with an attack on his mental health. Far be it to impose upon how an artist should view the negativity towards them, but for someone who’s been in the industry as long as Fronz has, there should be some knowledge of how that process works, and especially for the album closer, it rings as monumentally tone-deaf when the sources of legitimate criticism that have plagued Attila’s work are still here in full force. Closure is no less hollowly materialistic and braying, and cycling through the same themes of drinking, hedonistic partying and—of course—clapping back against haters in such a workmanlike fashion is past the point of boring now, and leaning more towards a copy of a copy that began to fade a long time ago. In terms of drumming up offense, there’s Metalcore Manson which might feel like provocation for its own sake, but regardless of which one they’re (pretty clumsily) reference, Charles or Marilyn, it’s the most convincingly offensive Attila have been in a while.

That’s not saying much when it’s all so clearly an act though, and where there’s barely even any enjoyment to be found in the artifice. To their absolute credit, Day Drinking is easily the most distinct an Attila song has been in a long time with its southern-rock sizzle, and there’s something about Shots For The Girls that does click a bit more, but otherwise, it’s business as usual in terms of deathcore chugging that might occasionally break for some guitar flair that’s far too good for an Attila album to deserve, which is made up for by the fact it goes precisely nowhere. Again, business as usual, and the lack of depth in the mix just solidifies how little of a factor creativity actually is with this band. Then there’s Fronz himself, who has personality, sure, but none of it is all that likable in terms of persona or execution. He’s clearly overcompensating when it comes to the swaggering party-boy image, especially on songs like Metalcore Manson and Viva Las Vegas, but there’s just such a noxiousness to his voice in all of its permutations that’ll coat it even further. He’s most tolerable in his lower screams which, naturally, are used the least, but in his creaky rapping that’s supposed to sound ominous but winds up uncomfortable, and singing that’s more akin a vomiting child in how slimy and grating his delivery is, none of this is all that good. It plays up the cartoonishness of Attila that they might look to play into, but they also want to seem hard and raucous at the same time, which makes the disconnect come right to fore, as it does on all of their albums. And look, the criticisms made here can largely be levelled to anything they’ve released in the past decade or so, but when that’s such a fundamental part of why this music doesn’t work, it’s worth bringing up again and again, but Attila just aren’t learning. They aren’t getting worse either, which is a plus, but this sort of stasis that’s already hitting such a low depth isn’t good or worthwhile playing into. At the end of the day, it’s more of the disposable junk that Attila have become synonymous with; they’ll continue to ride it out as they always do, and that longevity will continue to baffle anyone with a decent concept of taste.

3/10

For fans of: Emmure, Upon A Burning Body, Eskimo Callboy

‘Closure’ by Attila is out now.


Lakes

Start Again

There’s so much to like about Lakes, even just in the confines of emo. They’ve got a knack for shaping tweeness and an insular brand of intricacy with a defined Britrock framework in a way that’s totally natural, and in a genre that regularly puts its past incarnations on a pedestal that mightn’t be entirely earned, Lakes feel like a palatable update that’s still in touch with its roots. So to the surprise of no one with even a passing interest in emo (or, y’know, anyone who’s heard of this genre more than once), an album recorded remotely and drawing from suffering mental health, addiction and misery exacerbated by lockdown after lockdown feels almost too easy of a conclusion to draw. This isn’t the first album that cover those themes, and doubtless will it be the last, but Start Again just hits in a place that so many stripped-bare quarantine projects haven’t. For one, Lakes understand that an instrumental range beyond a single rickety acoustic guitar and hanging, empty atmosphere can be employed, and the lushness formed out of the guitars balanced by keys, glockenspiel and vocal variety from Roberto Cappellina and Blue Jenkins is just a more appealing sound altogether. They wisely choose to avoid too much of the spidery side of emo too; the guitars are still thin and light but there’s a more defined melody to them, and for an album carried on how effortlessly rich it is, that’s a much better decision. Accompanied by Charlie Smith’s lovely round basslines and a killer pop sensibility that comes through on No Excuses and Talk!, Start Again is such a wonderfully approachable album, without becoming too placid or feeling as if a sense of progression is missing.

There’s also the emotional swell that Lakes have, a clear focal point on the album with good reason. Compared to some of more soul-baring examples of succumbing to ongoing spirals of loneliness that lockdown has produced, Start Again doesn’t push too far in that direction, but in terms of selling a sense of ennui that’s just overtaken everything, both Cappellina and Jenkins absolutely nail it. The fact that there’s definitely room for improvement for both of them as technical singers also lends a lot to that, in the very human presentation that makes the most of how purposely confined and small its reach is. But the acknowledgment that there’s a kernel of hope at the end of it all feels like the album’s greatest moment of clarity, where the rays of light that’ll pierce through within the sound herald a new, brighter start, and indeed, the title realises that new starts and better things are on the horizon. Where albums created in these circumstances can often wallow in a universal self-pity or skirt past vague illusions to better days, Lakes create a rare example where the optimism feels genuine and sincere, and as a result, Start Again’s half-life already seems to vastly exceed the pandemic in which it was formed. Separated from all context, this is just a great emo album, pure and simple, where the themes and resolutions aren’t new, but there’s a genuine earnestness that runs so deeply, it’s hard to not love all the same. For this stripe of emo, Lakes are hitting a high watermark with aplomb, and with the sort of album in which its quality and likability stands as immensely self-evident.

8/10

For fans of: American Football, The Appleseed Cast, The Yacht Club

‘Start Again’ by Lakes is released on 30th July on Big Scary Monsters.


The Five Hundred

A World On Fire

The Five Hundred have always felt like one of those metalcore bands on the margins without the opportunity to make a bigger leap into the main scene. Their debut Bleed Red was the ideal opportunity to get onboard, both in terms of the glances towards tech-metal that were all the rage in 2018 and the open lyrical content around the band’s own experience with Tourette’s, OCD and addiction, but for whatever reason, they didn’t move all that much from their holding spot. Bringing that forward a few years with A World On Fire, The Five Hundred seem to be in more or less the same position, of a deeply talented metalcore band that will sadly end up lost in the shuffle now that the scene has gotten even bigger again. They’ve made a good go at ensuring that’s not the case though, now moving closer to Bury Tomorrow in the towering, melodeath inspired compositions that have the unmistakable ripple of power in every muscle and sinew. This is the sort of the metalcore that hits right; sure, the bass is ignored within the mix as always, but between the feral lion roars of the guitars, drums that could smash through concrete on sound alone, and John Woods-Ely as a vocalist with true, unfettered power, The Five Hundred easily jump into a stripe of metalcore that’s just as sophisticated and compact as it is crushing. And yes, they aren’t exactly innovators within it—slap a sticker with ‘Bury Tomorrow’ over their name on the album cover and what really changes?—but there’s nothing obviously weaker about The Five Hundred’s take on it, and that’s nothing to sniff at.

Furthermore, their lyrical and thematic scope is still kept as insightful and biting, now look much further than themselves into the simultaneous fronts of devastation caused by the pandemic and climate change, all circling back to the scars left on the planet by humanity as it proceeds to destroy itself more and more. It’s not too far off the territory Architects tend to embody, which, as far as The Five Hundred’s tactic of collating cues from modern metalcore’s best goes, makes a lot of sense, and it’s done with a similar sense of apocalyptic resonance and hugeness here. There’s a surprising number of drilled-in hooks on this album, not exactly catchy as much as propelled by the momentum of how huge the album’s field of destructive view is. Perhaps the argument can be made that it’s a little one-note, where the doomsaying can be seen as succumbing to waves of pessimism without searching for a way out, but The Five Hundred certainly have conviction on their side. There’s something so visceral and ravenously angry about the way it’s delivered, and that’s a fine way of circumventing a perceived lack of nuance or—for lack of a better term—depth. It’s just a really solid example of metalcore for what it’s trying to achieve, not exactly standing out but with the strength of each consummate part stacking up to really work in The Five Hundred’s favour. Strong stuff overall, and hopefully the one to be given the boost that The Five Hundred definitely deserve.

7/10

For fans of: Bury Tomorrow, August Burns Red, Architects

‘A World On Fire’ by The Five Hundred is released on 30th July on Long Branch Records.


VIAL

Loudmouth

It’s a shame that the Tramp Stamps controversy will probably lead to greater scrutiny around non-male punk bands—which is a set of discourse that deserves far more space to be tackled than just a brief review segment—but it’s good that VIAL don’t seem to have fallen victim to that just yet. It’s probably because they feel more grassroots overall, where their pricklier, confrontational moments like Planet Drool and Mr Fuck You are more genuine rather than existing just to adhere to a marketing spreadsheet. There’s an air of necessity across Therapy Pt. II and Roadkill when it comes to biting back against the toxic masculinity that still runs rife within the industry and continues to treat bands like this as a novelty, and VIAL do a good job at getting their particular acrimony across, when Taylor Kraemer has such a tangible bite and gnash in their vocals. Of course, there’s also the more vulnerable moments like Violet and Vodka Lemonade which accentuate VIAL’s songwriting strength outside of flurries of anger, and where a line like “I’d disappoint my momma for you” in the former can encapsulate the layers of the queer experience that make it stand out so much.

On top of the brisk length that never outstays its welcome, there’s definitely an edge to Loudmouth that makes it stand out overall, where the style of the indie-punk sets a band like VIAL would typically run in appear more hard-edged and infused with something more traditionally punk. Swinging between the extremes can unravel what the album is going for slightly—just look at how Thumb and Piss Punk are right next to each other, yet are so hugely juxtaposed—but it’s never to the extent where it’s distracting or feels overly bitty. That’s down to how the production is locked into its organic tones that are liable to get a bit rougher and messier in some of punk-leaning cuts, but generally will trend in the same direction, if not outright take the same path. It’s hardly as if these are two diametric opposites being played with, and VIAL have the vigour and strength in their playing to hit the right notes throughout; even if it’s rarely transcendent, this is always enjoyable. If nothing else, it makes for a neat twist when so much indie-punk can be stuck in its ways, and the decision to avoid tweeness in really any form is a wise one. Overall then, a worthwhile listen; not one that’ll shift the paradigm but a worthwhile inclusion to its scene, especially at a time when that might be needed moving forward.

7/10

For fans of: Doll Skin, Amyl And The Sniffers, Pinkshift

‘Loudmouth’ by VIAL is released on 30th July on Hassle Records / Get Better Records.


Paradise Now

We Never Die

On paper, Paradise Now appearing as a cross between Holding Absence, latter-day Bring Me The Horizon and the darker threads of alt-pop implies a path towards the most lucrative of buzz the modern rock scene is in receipt of. That certainly wouldn’t be a far-fetched assumption off the back of We Never Die, as yet another dense, heady and emotionally atmospheric listen that’ll easily fall into a few cross-sections on the scene’s Venn diagram. But put next to those immediately obvious comparisons just makes Paradise Now seem more apparently on a lower rung, and We Never Die subsequently winds up a lumpier, less engaging listen. The production is a big factor in that, seemingly drawing from the previous cues of their label Tooth & Nail when it comes to thick layers of polish that drowns out what’s not the loudest or most immediate elements. That’s supplemented by an airier style that’s not as egregious, but harks back to the micro-trend of post-hardcore bands trying to emulate the wide open sound of Holding Absence, and serving as a reminder for why it didn’t take off. More than everything though, Paradise Now try to ramp up the drama and cinematic intentions of their sound without taking into account how exhausting and draining that can feel; they’re better at modulation where the ebb and flow of songs like Heaven Close and Criminal stands out, but the booming size that everything ends up feeding into isn’t as exciting as the band want it to be. When that’s similarly held by guitars that are loud but don’t have much movement, and a generally sluggish pace that make themselves feel even more portentous, the shortcoming is more noticeable still.

At the same time though, it’s hard to begrudge Paradise Now for accomplishing what they do in the way they have. They’ve got an idea that they’re trying their hardest to make work, with the Lucas Woodland emulation in Sam Taylor’s vocals being blatant and unable to hit the same extremities, but not being bad all the same. In the same vein, the lyrics will touch on themes of rising out of darkness and journeying into hope, though in a way that thankfully avoids too much of a Christian rock clandestinity and belongs more in the vein of just standard post-hardcore fare. It’s not a very interesting sound that Paradise Now have at any juncture (again, their closest touchstones all do this markedly better), but nor is it truly awful either, and the fact there’s enough pull to get Fit For A King’s Ryan Kirby to provide backing screams for Monsters shows that there’s a least a bit of traction that this band are making use of. It’s not hard to see who would like something like this, while simultaneously being able to acknowledge that We Never Die will most likely never be anyone’s favourite album, and will likely serve to fill a hole more than anything else. To a degree, you could argue that Paradise Now deserve slightly better than that, simply on the basis of their own willingness to go bigger, but that’s also all they really have, and when that wears out its welcome significantly before the album is even over, it’s hard to get all that invested at all.

5/10

For fans of: Holding Absence, Bring Me The Horizon, Hands Like Houses

‘We Never Die’ by Paradise Now is released on 30th July on Tooth & Nail Records.


Bicurious

(re)constructed

In the wider realms of instrumental math-rock, Bicurious certainly feel aligned with the current scene, both in a more tuneful take on music that’s still highly progressive, and a tacit sense of levity and humour that’s still able to come through despite the lack of words. It’s the sort of stuff that has a bit more character than the lofty, cinematic fare at post-rock’s other end, and thus it keeps (re)constructed feeling a bit more kinetic and engaging as a result. The vocal samples that Bicurious use to shape their narrative similarly help; they aren’t there much, but there’s definitely a place for them on a track like I Can Hear Them Too, where the muffled sound of voices cutting through the squalling waves of angles and sounds always carries such a notable aesthetic strength. The personal and political stripes that supposedly paint this album don’t come through as strongly for it though, beyond the rare sung contributions of We’re All Totally Fucked which is broad and cartoonish enough in its execution that it could practically be a parody. It’s not a dealbreaker though, as Bicurious carry an energy and a mood that holds the emotional weight of their music a bit more firmly through subtext and cues, not flying off the handle like some of their contemporaries but containing their own mini-maelstroms with a necessary tension.

It goes without saying that this is a well-played album too, where the age-old adage of ‘it doesn’t sound like only two people’ really can take flight. The onus is primarily placed on Taran Plouzané’s guitar work, the volatile heart and soul of the album that has a surprising amount of range on its own between the leaps into brightness on Like We Used To and Palapalapa and some of the heavier, borderline stoner pivots on Mercurial and I Can Hear Them Too. Drummer Gavin Purcell is no slouch either though, where his own technicality is less directly on show than his bandmate’s, but there’s definitely a weight carried that makes the whole album seem heavier and more forceful at pretty much every turn. It’s a huge sound that Bicurious command, with more of an inroad to get in and enjoy at the same time in comparison to plenty of other prog-math bands. (re)constructed stands as a good middle ground, where ‘comfortable’ might be the most apt word if it still wasn’t enormously vibrant and off-the-wall with its creativity. It’s a lot tighter overall in terms of where its creators go though, and Bicurious have tapped into how to use that to their advantage with an almost flawless consistency.

7/10

For fans of: Polyphia, The Physics House Band, Alpha Male Tea Party

‘(re)constructed’ by Bicurious is released on 30th July.


Wall

Vol. 2

Of all the projects to come out with more new music in 2021, Wall wouldn’t have been up their. They released their debut EP right at the start of the year, a short but not unlikable slice of instrumental stoner-rock / doom, something which, on principle alone, doesn’t cleanly set up more in such a short space of time. The coalescence of factors just doesn’t allow for it, as an instrumental variant of a sound as deeply rooted in its ways as stoner-rock, and the fact it was already a quick side-project for Desert Storm’s Elliot and Ryan Cole could itself slash the prospect of more to ribbons. But here’s Vol. 2 anyway, where the title says a lot about Wall’s approach to coming out with these releases for as no-frills as they are. There’s definitely a buoyancy where you can tell the duo are having fun, but again, this sort of material doesn’t lend itself to enormous memorability as much as picking apart riffs and pieces that stick above all else. The rumble of Speed Freak is good, and the cover of Karma To Burn’s Nineteen will probably appeal to anyone who’s actively searching out this stuff, but otherwise, there’s not much here. Apart from the quasi-psychedelic closer Falling From The Edge Of Nowhere, these songs—or, more accurately, arranged collections of riffs—just don’t have the staying power to last beyond this EP’s preceding release, and ultimately just feels kind of forgettable.

That’s not to say that Wall play badly or that the entire thing is unlistenable. They’ve got a sense of groove that’s clearly been honed after so much experience within this genre, and for a lightweight alternative to what can otherwise be a rather dense sound to pick up on, like its predecessor, Vol. 2 will scratch an itch. But similarly, the existence of this as a quarantine project is rather blatant, where the fuzz is there but the heft just isn’t, nor is so much of the scorching, baked-out depth that usually makes stoner-rock an entertaining listen. It’s a case of the pair working with what they have honestly, but it yields a rather forgettable project on the whole, now not even with the novelty value that came from the first. Again, it’s not to say that Vol. 2 is bad, but it falls into pretty much the exact same hole of having zero longevity compared to other bigger releases in its field, now just compounded and reiterated in a way that makes it feel even less necessary. There’ll be an audience for this, no doubt, but that audience also probably has countless better and more substantial acts to choose from who do this exact same thing. A second helping of what probably could’ve been left as a one-off isn’t going to help that.

5/10

For fans of: Karma To Burn, Kyuss, Earthless

‘Vol. 2’ by Wall is released on 30th July on APF Records.


Words by Luke Nuttall

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