REVIEW | Toy Mountains – I Swore I’d Never Speak Of This Again

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It really is hard to think of many Scottish bands who made an immediate impact upon arrival, but one that sticks out in that reserved party is Toy Mountains.

Putting out For A Few Seconds, Came Harmony back in 2014, they had everybody talking from the offset, and just like that sparks of huge potential were seen. After a strenuously long wait, the quartet are ready to make the most of that aforementioned potential with their first proper EP – I Swore I’d Never Speak Of This Again.

Starting on the quiet side with nothing more than a smooth drum beat, they abruptly unleash into the impassioned opener Hard Done By, which is brimming with their trademark lyrical capabilities.

A brief interlude bridges into Full Circle, a short and to the point yet in-your-face track featuring a triad of robust screams throughout; a trait that steps up to another gear in the fierce main single Old Friends, with the addition of outstanding riffs and a tight rhythm section for good measure, all helping build to a frenzied climax.

Another interim is suddenly cut short by Everything Ends, firing in with the most frantic of mathy intros.

Soon, they wrap things up with Sight Reading, where they go into a completely different direction, but a much welcome one, with a solemn, eerily silent first half carried by a gentle piano, where frontman Callum hooks us in with an emotional vocal performance and strong lyrics, but before long it escalates to an all-out finale to cap off the EP in familiarly insane fashion.

A couple of years in the making, I Swore I’d Never Speak Of This Again does not disappoint. A superb record that exceeds on all fronts, one that we predict will help cement Toy Mountains as an assertive staple in the British rock industry.

Expect the guys to make massive waves in 2017 and beyond.

REVIEW | SEASONS – What Goes Around

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Hailing from Bedfordshire, alternative rockers SEASONS threw their hats into the ring last year with their inaugural self-titled EP, which proved to be a rather good product that certainly made quite a solid impression.

And now the boys are set to come back with record number 2 – What Goes Around – and let’s just say that the caliber has gotten even better with this one.

From the first note we are instantly hooked, with Empire serving as a fervent opener that wastes no time in getting the blood pumping. They soon settle into the swing of things with When We Were Young, where the strong drum work strikes as the dominant aspect.

Last Words stands as the highlight of the EP, and that can be attributed to magnetic writing conveyed through an intense vocal performance, accompanied by energetic riffs.

These qualities continue into Rewind And Replay, where again the lyrics are great, and soon they finish in the same manner as they had begun, with the intense Fire giving the listener one last zealous rush, leaving them breathless by the time it is over and done with.

All in all, a thrilling compilation that improves on every aspect of their debut record. If these guys progress at the rate they are going, there is little doubt a bright future is ahead of them. Too much potential here that cannot afford to go to waste.

 

REVIEW | Vida – Masquerade

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As far as 2016’s best newcomers in the local scene are concerned, Vida from Alloa certainly rank very high on that list.

Since putting out their first number Fade Away only six months ago, the boys have quickly garnered a hefty amount of attention, gaining fans left and right whilst potentially sparking a Britpop renaissance of sorts, with all of this leading up to the much anticipated release of their debut EP – Masquerade.

The opener Moloko Vellocet immediately shows a lot of spirit, with sleek harmonies, a top notch, cymbal-driven rhythm and stand out riffs to be had here. They then take it down a notch for When I Call, running at a more smooth pace but still being enjoyable.

And lastly, we have the tremendous title track, highlighted by a catchy melody to tap your foot to, and a great memorable chorus which sticks in the head for long after.

A strong, more than satisfying follow up to their initial single. We firmly believe that if the band are able to carve their own identity without falling into the image of being just another Britpop act looking to emulate the likes of Oasis and Blur, then there is no reason why they cannot become major players in Scotland and beyond.

 

REVIEW | illustr8ors (Self-Titled EP)

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In the continuing trend of fresh new British rock acts breaking out, we have illustr8ors from Bristol, who in the last few months have witnessed a swift rise seemingly out of nowhere, but judging by their self-titled debut EP, it should come as no surprise.

They begin with lead single Your Animal, and what a hell of a way to start, consisting of outstanding vocals and the most intoxicating of melodies topped off with an insanely catchy chorus.

They pump the gas to another degree with Something Biblicalcharging at a rapid pace whilst dishing out feisty riffs all the way along. As the adrenaline further builds in Swimming With Anchors, they continue to shine in the writing department with entertaining lyrics that are easy to latch onto.

Eventually, they cap things off with Shush Shush, a fiery finale showcasing superb bass and drum work, producing such a feverish rhythm that is pretty hard to resist dancing along to.

With such a vigorous, undying energy throughout, illustr8ors’ first outing is nothing short of a dynamic joyride that gives us exactly what we want from a rock album – a fun musical experience featuring a batch of cracking heavy tunes that we can merrily headbang to.

Big things are clearly in store for this quintet, as they have all the tools at hand to make an impact. In fact, you could argue they are doing so already.

 

 

 

REVIEW | Splintered Halo – The Splintered Minds Asylum

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Flashing back to March 2015, we headed down to Audio in Glasgow to catch The Courtesans live at the venue. One of the acts supporting them was a band by the name of Splintered Halo, whom we had never heard of beforehand but were happy to give a chance.

To put it lightly, they blew us away that night, and since then they have remained one of our favourite metal groups in all of Scotland, if not the whole UK.

Fast forward to November 2016, where following a successful fundraising campaign, they have come out with their debut full-length album titled The Splintered Minds Asylum. Since it was initially announced, this has been one of our most anticipated records of this year, and expectations could not be any higher.

In most circumstances, this would lead to disappointment, but in this case, the final result proved to be something extra special; capturing our imaginations like nothing else.

The record opens up with the instrumental Welcome To The Asylum, the most perfect way possible to kick things off. In creepy, hair-raising fashion, it hooks you in straight off the bat.

Things properly get going with I Bathe In Blood, where we get our first showcase of Evelyn’s multi-range harmonies which are devilishly spectacular, with a hint of underlying psychopathic tendencies for added effect.

Following that is the creative Dark Side Of Oz which does what it says on the tin; taking a charming children’s classic and shining a whole new demented light on it – similarly to what the returning Bloodshed In Wonderland does with the famous Alice tale – plus we enjoy the more menacing take on the film soundtrack.

In fact, there are a lot of songs present here based on popular media, such as The Butcher featuring an immense chorus, the turbulent riff-fest Your Face Is MY Face and Duality Of Personality which is highlighted by some really gripping writing.

But for sure the holy grail of the album has to be Mad Love, where we take a deep look into Harley Quinn’s tragic, obsessive romance with the Joker. The combination of an insanely catchy melody, tremendous lyrics and, above all, an extraordinary vocal performance which has to be the greatest we have seen in 2016, make for an outstanding number which gives us goosebumps all over without fail every time.

The solid Dark Disease serves as a bridge into the Exorcist-inspired final tune, Diabolus, an incredible finale brimming with sinister macabre.

It goes without saying that we listen to hundreds of records a year, but coming across one that makes a lasting impact on us is an event as rare as a blue moon. Splintered Halo have pulled off that feat here.

The Splintered Minds Asylum is a fiercely formidable masterpiece, portrayed as an auditory avant-garde theatre show of cinematic proportions, with each deranged and maniacal track as awesome as the last, sure to leave both metal and horror fans gushing and begging for more. An instant classic that we could not recommend enough.