For as many modern metal bands will think that they’re channelling Deftones through piped-in atmosphere, it’s refreshing to finally have one that isn’t just paying blind fealty. Moodring actually have the means in what to fill in that midpoint between Deftones and Bring Me The Horizon, in which they’re defined by their own swirling elegance rather than using it to fill negative space. As such, when the first track proper Disintegrate roars into its haunted, towering maelstrom of bleak noise, it’s a far cry in effectiveness from what many will do. Choruses feel more empowered in Red Light Gossip and Peel from being shaped around it, and there are some genuinely lovely crescendos on the title track that show exactly what can be done when it’s utilised most tastefully. In fact, Moodring are able to go even further in avoiding being crushed under their own immense density; it’s a danger that comes from being so indebted to both Deftones and BMTH (one exacerbates the other), and outside of the shuddering, lumbering N.I.K.E which is the only big misstep, they keep it all together nicely. Obviously Hunter Young’s voice isn’t as enigmatic as Chino Moreno’s or as forceful as Oli Sykes’, but it works for the sound that Moodring cultivate, airy in the right places and tense in others, again serving as a step up from those in the swollen metalcore mid-section. It’s honestly enough to make otherwise serious complaints about the sound a bit more minor; sure, it’d be nice to get more prominent bass to carve out the melodies more cleanly, but it doesn’t gets to a point where Moodring are knocked back because of it. They’re able to work with what they have pretty efficiently, where even lyrically in what is self-described as “pure teenage angst”, the overdone nature of that sentiment that can cause such a knee-jerk in this scene is coated over pretty nicely. This is just a much more stylish, thoughtful version of a sound that’s lost all of its perpetually waning luster now, and it’s frankly amazing how some simple retooling can get Moodring to here. There’s no need to break the bank when something like this just works, an ethos that Moodring get plenty of mileage out of.
For fans of: Bring Me The Horizon, Deftones, Thornhill
‘Stargazer’ by Moodring is released on 10th June on UNFD.
Before any proper discussion of this EP, it’s worth noting that, had Creature not been hindered by the pandemic as much as they were, it probably would’ve turned out very different. If not, then it might at least feel like it would have, seeing how Creature’s steadily building waves within UK hardcore have been rather quick to peter out in the last couple of years. That’s because Haunt is the final part of a trilogy of EPs, the first two installments coming out in 2019 and with the unexpected three-year hiatus leaving any wind in this band’s sails borderline nonexistent. Yes, it’s definitely harsh to hold that against them when it’s demonstrably not their fault, but the degree to which Haunt feels shaped by the extenuating circumstances around it is palpable. Over four tracks that don’t show much cohesion, Creature feel as though they’re trying to catch up to where they should be rather than refining what they’ve got. They’ll try and place burly, Every Time I Die-esque roils on Grey Ghosts next to something like Creeping that sounds deliberately produced sharpen the angles on the guitars, or All that locks into a fatter, slower groove. None of those individual decisions are a problem, but with how short this EP is, there’s barely ever a sense of presence around what Creature are trying to do, as if they’re rushing to close up an already delayed project so they can just move on to something else, while simultaneously trying to work out what that could be. What makes it all the more disappointing is that it’s played well, particularly in a terrific bassline on Grey Ghosts, but the knowledge of how to filter multiple forms of hardcore through their own lens is made perfectly evident. The political lyrics and James Thompson’s delivery of them err more towards ‘expectedly serviceable’ than anything altogether spectacular, but the chance for them to be elevated is there, if nothing else. And it’d be nice to say that’s Haunt’s saving grace, but it doesn’t come together as a full project nearly as cleanly as it should for that to be true. Being charitable in Creature’s favour is probably the kindest thing to ultimately do in this situation, because it’s not hard to tell that this could’ve done more had things gone their way.
For fans of: Every Time I Die, Converge, Employed To Serve
‘Haunt’ by Creature is released on 10th June.
It’s no secret that there’s a lot of bands like Future Palace, trafficking in big, emotionally heavy post-hardcore polished to a fine sheen. Hell, you could attribute that same description to most of their label alone, such is the ubiquity with which this style continues to operate. Fortunately the middling track record of a lot of their peers doesn’t seem to have afflicted Future Palace to as tremendous a degree, even if its traits can sometimes still be in earshot. The writing suffers most from it, powered by frontwoman Maria’s formidable vocal might than anything extending too far past meat-and-potatoes depression and mental anguish. Heads Up probably stands out the most, but that’s only because the phraseology of “I gotta keep my head up / In this crappy situation” is unexpectedly conversational and practically juts out for it. Still, for an album of this manner to have something like that will always be a positive, given how easy a band like Future Palace can slide back into slate-grey metalcore trappings that are serviceable but seldom flavourful. It’s worth noting that Run is never as boring as some of its counterparts, given that Future Palace are far more in-tuned with melody that can up the drama considerably. The wall of guitars still masks much of a bass tone, but it complements monster hooks on Dead Inside and Roses, and the lighter vocal flourishes on Wounds and sleeker pop production on A World In Tears set in place a stronger pop-rock flair. Even at worst, the rehashed ideas aren’t immeasurably burdened by what came before, and Future Palace can be a bit more nimble in how they go about appropriating them. The bar they’ve cleared isn’t particularly high, to be sure, but it makes for a more engaging listen than another roll of metalcore wallpaper.
For fans of: Bring Me The Horizon, Holding Absence, PVRIS
‘Run’ by Future Palace is released on 10th June on Arising Empire.
Words by Luke Nuttall