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James Maddern

parkway drive reverence

Parkway Drive – Reverence

As Parkway‘s first real venture into concept album territory, Reverence is ambitious as it is brilliant. Kicking off with the spoken/growled, fast-paced first single Wishing Wells, it’s clear they’re not putting out Ire again as many had feared. Opening with spoken words spat with fury, frontman Winston McCall has a point to prove – the time spent away is not time wasted. Breaking into the mildly more familiar second track Prey, the band sound more mature than ever before. Giant gang vocals, bouncy beats and octaved leads provide more of the sound all onlookers have been expecting.

A crunchy bass solo brings in third track Absolute Power with crushing power before the band descends, breaking away into more spoken/growled combination vocals. Screams of “the truth drops like a bomb / the battle is on” brings in a wah-soaked solo, displaying the guitar techniques of Parkway old have not been lost despite the stylistic change. Comments about how the band has “outgrown metalcore” worried some people about losing breakdowns and heaviness – the venue-demolishing ending to the track proves that spirit isn’t gone by any stretch of the imagination.

Vocally, this album is the most interesting material of Parkway Drive‘s career. Experimenting with different styles of screaming and spoken word, the lyrics are conveyed with different effects throughout Reverence – something that has worked out incredibly well. Where Ire sounded quite similar the whole way through from the lack of variation, the experimenting throughout this album keeps each track fresh and moving on from the last while the instrumentation ensures the tracks aren’t a rag-tag bunch thrown together. The differences and similarities bring the album together as a whole fantastically which seems to be an art lost to an extent in recent years in heavy music.

The contrast can best be seen between Wishing WellsPrey and Shadow Boxing clearly. The latter is an interesting track in total and perhaps the most ambitious song the band have released ever. Beginning with clean, melodic guitar lines matched with similar vocals, the emotion of the lyrics is brought through with ease as McCall sings “I leave a scar on all I touch” and breaking into a rap/growl build which sounds phenomenal in the context of the track. Building through chugging guitars combined with a huge string and piano sound, they have managed to create a giant symphonic rock sound which retains its heaviness somehow, showing off just how good this lot are as musicians.

Overall, Reverence is the best collection of Parkway songs to date. Variation, experimentation and pure heaviness are the keys to unlock the brilliance, but they have hit a winner here and the tour later this year is set to be very special indeed with these tracks in their arsenal.

Palm Reader Braille

Palm Reader – Braille

Well known for their range of influences across hardcore and punk rock, Palm Reader haven’t been afraid to get stuck right in when they’re recording in the studio and they’re anything but strangers to going hard. Luckily, since the release of 2015 album Beside the Ones We Love they’ve definitely not lost that attitude or identity. Right from the very first notes of Swarm, the pace and power of this third effort are clearly evident. The influence of old-school Gallows is clear throughout the verses, with the hardcore screams having that “couldn’t give a damn” feel conveyed throughout their 2006 debut album Orchestra of Wolves.

Crashing through Internal Winter and Like A Wave, the band show no signs of slowing down. The former has elements of a djent feel with some low-tuned chug and bend work underneath the higher octave distortion to provide a hugely deep tone before moving into a melodic chorus with some quick lead riffs that fill all the remaining space. In the same vein, the latter is a no-holds-barred melodic hardcore tune with some ferocious screams mixed in with very well-mixed clean vocals to provide a fantastic blend as frontman Josh McKeown demonstrates his sheer power and ability in one track.

The highlights, however, sit a little lower down the tracklist. Following more emo-influenced Inertia, the instrumental track Breach splits up the album immaculately. The stuttering delay and rich reverb of the guitars combined with synth sounds creates an atmospheric, almost dream-like pause in the heaviness to leave time to think of where the album has been and the direction it is set to take. A long fade out brings the track to an end, and the calm before the storm is broken by the immense Coalesce. The giant guitar sounds bring the release right back to the track it set before the interlude, and the visceral screams of “wake up, wake up” instantly grab the attention back after the rest. The song by itself sums up the album incredibly well – a bolshy and raucous sound with refined and melodic elements, clearly influenced by a number of different artists.

Parallelling those tracks are another instrumental track Dorothy and the following Clockwork but with one key difference – Clockwork is a phenomenally broad and somewhat surprisingly restrained piece. Featuring no screams until a bridge over two minutes in, the first half of the song relies on lyrical content and the relationship between the dynamic vocal melody and the effect-rich guitar tones before developing into a pulsating, confident and heavy message of encouragement to “keep breathing”. Unlike with many bands though, the two parts of the song are not only blended through the dynamic bridge but somehow Palm Reader manage to retain the integral feel of the emotive first section throughout the heavy second – one of (if not the) best track in their repertoire.

Overall, not only a well-written and performed album but a beautifully crafted record with many, many faces. If anyone had any doubts about the ability or questioned the power of Palm ReaderBraille is set to make them look incredibly, incredibly stupid.

A shoutout has to go to the label Silent Cult as well – they’re giving some fantastic bands a platform to put out some excellent music.

blessthefall hard feelings

blessthefall – Hard Feelings

Even blessthefall themselves admit it’s been a rough ride in the last couple of years since the release of To Those Left Behind in 2015 and they’ve struggled to get back where they want to be. If Hard Feelings is anything to go by, their extensive touring routes of late will have paid off entirely.

Frontman Beau Bokan has said that signing to Rise Records has felt like rejuvenating the band entirely, and by opening it up with Wishful Sinking, it immediately shows off the vocal talents of both Bokan on cleans and bassist Jared Warth screaming. With a similar vocal style to past releases, it is clear to hear the progression the band have taken – it does not feel like closing the book to open a new one as some bands do, but more ending the chapter and the story becoming far more intense. Industrial electronics take the track to the next level though; the metalcore feel can become dull in the modern market, and the influence of experienced producers Tyler Smith, Matt Good and Howard Benson has helped them come to life. Moving straight into Find Yourself, the electronic motion is pushed home with an explosive drop of instruments that demonstrates the fusion beautifully.

From a choppy electronic introduction, album highlight Cutthroat bursts out of nowhere to become one of the heaviest verses blessthefall have put out in years. Fast-paced, packed with furious screams interspersed with pop-fuelled verses and emotional strip-back sections, the song displays the confidence they have snatched back with a vengeance. A technical, fast and all round vitriolic breakdown is the gem within this gem though; signalled only by a scream of “you should know this is cutthroat”, the guitars and drums break into a pandemonium that will open pits in fractions of a second. You’ll have to hear it below to believe quite how good it is (around the 2:05 mark).

Throughout the whole album, the heart and soul that went into the record is clear. Bokan’s sweeping melodies soar over the fusion of genres in the band behind him, backed up immaculately by Warth’s screams. While the guitars are performed pretty immaculately, drummer Matt Traynor has to get a special mention – some of his best work to date is shown off in Cutthroat and Feeling Low that show he truly is at the top of the drumming game, now more than ever before.

Overall, a real return to form for the Arizona bunch. These new songs are set to seamlessly slot into the live setlist while the new feel will be sure to make the upcoming tours more bouncy than ever before.

as it is

Live: As It Is, O2 Academy 2 Birmingham – 13/3/2018

The night had sold out in advance and the room was pretty filled up before Grayscale kicked off. With the crowd already starting to crowdsurf within minutes of the band playing, the keen fans were obviously ready for showing the supporting acts a good time. They embodied the ‘typical’ pop punk aesthetic with each member jumping and spinning around on stage, providing a lively stage presence which warmed up the crowd nicely. As It Is frontman Patty Walters bounced onto the stage for Come Undone, to which the crowd predictably went wild. A strong set to open the show. [8/10]

as it is

As with Grayscale, Like Pacific carried on the energy with Jordan Black’s harmonic vocals, driving guitar chords and upbeat drum rhythms. The tightness of their recorded music was present throughout the set, being displayed in tracks like Richmond22A and Commitment, which went down a treat with the onlookers. The crowdsurfers kept coming over the barrier, only growing in number for each supporting act – an exciting prospect for the headliners’ set. [7/10]

The main support came in the form of Liverpool pop punks WSTR. Boasting catchy guitar licks and a slightly heavier pop punk sound than the previous bands, they took to the stage with captivating stage presence as they displayed their experience. Playing material from their Red, Green or Inbetween including Footsteps and Nail The Casket with confidence took even the most reserved audience members into the pit, and the retention of older material from EP SKRWD had the fans bouncing around to South Drive and Graveyard ShiftWSTR know how to please fans of both the old and new, and they may well have won over a few more that night. [8/10]

as it is

Finally, headlining act As It Is graced the stage. Adorned with cut outs and plans of the Okay. album artwork for the OKAY. UK tour, the stage was set for the eagerly awaited return. The band got up on stage a tad too early for their intro, but having to redo their big entrance didn’t slow them down for a second. Each member ran onstage to a roaring crowd, and the fans wasted no time in bringing a formidable amount of energy for their set.  Newer tracks  No Way Out and Curtains Close show the pop punk prowess developed in the eight years of honing their craft, while older tracks Bitter, Broken Me and (the now incredibly rare addition to the setlist) Often showed the hysterical crowd how far they have come in that time. Until I Return saw Patty encourage a circle pit and the crowd happily obliged – willingness to get involved in the pushing and jumping was a given at a pop punk gig.

CO2 jets setting off streams of smoke perfectly timed to the beats of the song brought the set together as a more polished whole. Patty Walters asserted his usual lovable, animated stage presence,  putting the mic to the crowd and bouncing off the energy from the crowd throughout the entire set. Crowd surfers sailing over the top of the barrier in succession, an endless loop of die-hard fans, singing and finger pointing as they reach the stage. Patty slowed things down for a second, he presented a heartfelt monologue about getting through hard times before their track Still Remembering. Lastly, concluding with an encore of Okay and Dial Tones, As It Is finished their momentous set with a bang – a fitting way to end an era. [9/10]

 

Parkway Drive 2018

Parkway Drive are back…

During the last few months, Aussie metalcore giants Parkway Drive have been quite open about the fact they have written and recorded the long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Ire. Fans all over the globe have been waiting to hear something more official than photos and videos of studio time and the prayers have finally been answered. This is Wishing Wells.

While nothing has yet been announced about that album, what is certain is that the band aren’t slowing to a halt any time soon and if the first single is anything to go by the album will be one of the records of the year.

Frontman Winston McCall said of the track: “Wishing Wells is the compression of grief into song. It’s attempting to place blame when there is none, seeking answers where there is only emptiness, and ultimately trying to find some kind of reason and meaning to justify the ultimate loss we will all be faced with in life. This is how this chapter begins and will end.”

Watch the (very Winston-centred) video for Wishing Wells right here:

Check out their European touring plans below:

June 1st, 2018 – Nijmegen, FortaRock (NL) – TICKETS 
June 2nd,2018 –  Nürburgring, Rock Am Ring (DE) – TICKETS
June 3rd, 2018 – Nürnberg, Rock Im Park (DE) – TICKETS 
June 6th, 2018 – Dornbirn, Conrad Sohm Open Air (AT) – TICKETS
June 7th, 2018 – Interlaken, Greenfield (CH) – TICKETS 
June 9th, 2018 – Donington, Download Festival (UK) – TICKETS
June 14th, 2018 – Nickelsdorf, Nova Rock (AT) – TICKETS
June 15th, 2018 – Wroclaw, A2 (PL) – TICKETS
June 16th, 2018 –  Gräfenhainichen, With Full Force (DE) – TICKETS 
June 18th, 2017 – Stockholm, Fryshuset (SE) – TICKETS
June 19th, 2018 – Oslo, Rockefeller (NO) – TICKETS
June 20th, 2018 – Gothenburg, Pustervik (SE) – TICKETS
June 21st, 2018 – Copenhagen, Copenhell (DK) – TICKETS
June 22nd, 2018 – Dessel, Graspop (BE) – TICKETS
June 23rd, 2018 – Clisson, Hellfest (FR) – TICKETS
June 26th, 2018 – Roma, Rock in Roma (IT) – TICKETS
June 28th, 2018 – Airfield, Panensky Tynec Aerodrome (CZ) – TICKETS 
June 29th, 2018 – Madrid, Download Festival (ES) – TICKETS 
June 30th, 2018 – Vana-Vigala, Hard Rock Laager (EST)– TICKETS
July 1st, 2018 – Helsinki, Tuska Open Air (FI) – TICKETS 

The Anchor – Make It Last [EP]

Opening with September, the Make It Last EP is off to a heavy start. There seems to be a distinct lack of bass frequencies in the mix throughout the introduction which leave the overall sound feeling a bit flat, and this is carried through into the body of the track, alongside some very mismatched vocals and guitars.

Second track Avow sounds remarkably like a watered-down Venom Prison tune – the screams are brutal and powerful without a single lyric being audible for the mostpart, but the verses turn into a much lighter melodic sound which doesn’t fit as seamlessly as they perhaps were trying for. Then comes a very The Amity Affliction-esque bridge section which actually does work very well, before hitting a breakdown which sits in the realms of very generic metalcore. The title track comes next with melodic chords throughout providing a bouncy feel which some of the rest of the work lacks, though it seems to seems to sum up the band’s over-fusion of genres well: pop-punk feel in the clean vocals, death-influenced screams and melodic hardcore guitars which make a rather strange blend.

Somehow though, fourth track NOLA works a lot better than the rest up to this point. A faster pace and a less ambitious fusion of genres here allows for the instrumentals matching well, and the clean vocals laid over the top sound like they belong throughout the entire track. The screams are not out of place here either though – rather than taking over the whole mix, they are used more sparingly to be more of a backing vocal to fill the gaps which seems to form a far better sound for The Anchor. Following up with Paradise Falls brings one surprise after another; the song is a building, emotive anthem that could fill arenas with ease. Octave guitar parts, fantastic vocal melodies and a catchy chorus make a very good song, and the band have completely nailed it here.

Overall then, a strange release that has some fantastic parts and some that will be very forgettable. Frontwoman Linzey Rae has a phenomenal voice which she does not show off to the full extent throughout these songs, but definitely check out her YouTube channel here to see quite how good she is. Hopefully the songs can be brought to life live, and Paradise Falls is one reason to definitely check The Anchor out at shows in the near future.

Feed the Rhino

Interview: Lee Tobin (Feed The Rhino)

Ahead of the release of their fifth album on Friday (16th Feb), Feed The Rhino frontman Lee Tobin took some time out to talk to us about the return of the band, the new album and Jamie Lenman.

First of all, congratulations on a fantastic new record! It feels just as angry but more controlled than your past releases – do you feel the band has matured in the last 4 years?
I definitely think we’ve learned a lot, not just now but in the last nine or ten years. Over the last four years definitely. Parting ways for a while to do our own thing, having our own space to contend with ourselves. You find out how involved you were in the band. You have to mature really, it’s the only thing you can do.

In terms of lyrics, has your approach changed since The Sorrow and the Sound?
I don’t think it’s changed that much, really. If anything, I always wear my heart on my sleeve to try to write what I personally feel and say. At the same time, there are a few different elements on this album where it’s not too personal to me – one of the songs is about someone else for a start. It’s about finding the right words to say and put forward for that, as well as trying to connect a bit at the same time. My general way is putting across a good feeling in the music and use that to try to put out what’s in my head to the best of my ability.

Yellow And Green is a fantastic melodic tune from the album – will it be one for the setlist or will it be a while before we hear it?
It’ll be one to wait for, to be honest. That track was a late bloomer really, we finished writing it in the studio. I love that tune – it’s one of the tracks that I find really sets the album up and it’s a lovely transitional song in the album. It was great fun to record and write as well. I’d love to play it live though because I think it would sound amazing. I don’t know how well I’d sing it but I’d definitely give it a go.

Was it one of the more vocally challenging songs for you to record then?
It’s not so much the fact that any of them are difficult. I think it was always something that was always in the back of my mind; I always wanted to push the cleaner vocals a little bit more and we wanted to write a bigger chorus. It’s just a challenge really, going from heavy into clean vocals. It’s something I’m not really used to but it’ll be a really big test on this tour. I really want to do it and I hope I can do it well.

What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
It’s changed a lot. First of all, I really like Losing Ground because it was different from every one of our albums. Not completely different because we’ve always written those interlude songs on our albums like Tides [on 2012 album The Burning Sons], Empty Mirrors [on 2010 album Mr Red Eye], Sitting Ducks [on Mr Red Eye] and now this on this album. Losing Ground is more of a song than a transition like those though, less of an interlude track. It’s a song that means a lot to me and I thought we connected really well writing it. I think we’ve made it sound really good, but I really love [album opener] Timewave Zero too because it’s a bridge between the old and the new. It’s still got the heavy vocals, the real slap-heavy riffs and a bit more of a polished sound. It’s got that clean chorus too which we’ve tried to do on this album more. I’ll listen through the album and end up sticking on All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy – that song is a thumper. That reminds me of the old us, it really brings nostalgia. For me, it’s probably that song really.

What do you hope this album will do for Feed the Rhino?
Just give us the opportunity to tour again really. We’re a live band; we love playing live. It’s our heartbeat. Other than that, maybe just to show people a different side to us which hopefully they like. It’s going to get mixed reviews because it’s something slightly unusual for us to take this kind of direction but if we didn’t try we wouldn’t know. The thing is for us – this is really stepping back in. We love the music industry, the scene, we love playing music live. We’ve always written the stuff we want to write and we always will. If it sounds good to us and it sounds like Feed The Rhino then we’ll write it. We want people to see this album as something new that is still very us. We want it to get the excitement back to bring people to watch us again.

Do you feel the UK heavy music scene has changed in the time you’ve been active?
I think it’s changed a lot. Coming back now, it feels different. We’re going out now for the first time in a while and there are bands we toured with back then that have gotten a lot bigger and doing bigger things, but there is a new crop of bands coming through playing different kinds of music. The good thing about the industry and the heavy scene is that the change and new feel is good, but at the same time it’s good to see old dogs doing good things as well. Look how long Jamie Lenman‘s been around but what he’s writing at the moment is genius! He’s the Beethoven of the industry at the moment, and I love that. It’s good to see bands like While She Sleeps doing the shows they’re doing, and Architects deserve everything they’re getting at the moment. They’re just great at what they do. Everything they’ve written has been really, really good but bands have to progress. Doomsday, just wow. Everything they’re writing now is brilliant. Those boys should be proud of themselves.

If you could have written any one song in the world, what would it be and why?
I don’t know what song it would be, but it would have to be a Rage Against The Machine song. I mean, for one they’re the best band ever. Their songs just make you react. Off the top of my head, probably Killing In The Name but they have so many good ones.

What albums have you been listening to recently?
Jamie Lenman
‘s new album, a lot. I actually listened to Black Peaks for the first time recently too which is great, because I didn’t know too much about them. I haven’t got round to listening to new Marmozets‘ but I will do, definitely.

Where do you see the band in 5 years’ time?
Still kicking the s*** out of it… I’d like to think we’ll still be here in five years’ time, and I can see us doing bigger and better things. We’re making a start on that now, and we’ll build on it and build with it. We’ll keep writing, stay Feed The Rhino and re-establish us as Feed The Rhino really.

If you could create a dream tour lineup including yourselves, who would accompany you?
Feed The Rhino
, Rage Against The Machine and Pantera, easy. There would be nothing left of anywhere. Obviously with Dimebag though. I’d dream about that stuff. That’s one of those situations where you’d get asked who you’re touring with and you’d say ‘the two best bands ever!’

Have you got any specific hopes for the upcoming headline tour?
Hoping people come out to see us and have some fun. The shows are going to be some really good times. There will be new stuff and old stuff, because people that know us know we love a party and that’s what’s going to happen on these shows. We’re playing some great places, playing some cool little venues with some bigger venues and selling the album out on tour too. Just come and party with us!

 

Thanks to Lee for talking to us and best of luck to the band for the album release!

The Silence will drop on Century Media on Friday 16th February across all platforms, and you can catch Feed The Rhino on tour at these dates:

Feb 20 – Bristol @ Exchange
Feb 21– Exeter @ Cavern
Feb 22 – Southampton @ Joiners
Feb 23 – London @ The Underworld
Feb 24 – Norwich @ The Owl Sanctuary
Feb 27 – Nottingham @ The Rescue Rooms Feb 28, 2018 – Newcastle @ Think Tank
Mar 1 – Glasgow @ G2
Mar 2 – Manchester @ Rebellion
Mar 3 – Birmingham @ The Flapper
Mar 15 – North Wales @ Hammerfest

Funeral Shakes

Funeral Shakes – Self-Titled

From the very first sound of the distorted and gritty guitar tones in opening track Over You, it is clear the experience of Funeral Shakes‘ members has combined to form a beautiful thing. The punchy bass/guitar octave riffs throughout the song, backing up frontman Calvin Roffey’s (The Smoking Hearts) Anglicised vocals. The crunchy verse leads that take over the right side of the mix creates a manic feel as Roffey tries to convince the subject of his emotions that he is indeed “over you”. Second track The Motions sounds like a hybrid between Moose Blood and Basement; the lead vocals and lyrics are reminiscent of the former’s frontman while the full band sound is more reminiscent of the latter. The guitar tones are full of attack and shimmer with effects, especially with the reverb, delay and modulation on the lead guitar in the solo. The backing vocals absolutely pack out any tiny shred of space left by the instruments for a huge sound that will rival any punks on the scene today.

Howl and Bon Voyage provide a more middle-of-the-road rock feel, with the backing vocals pulling together to give an emotive, full sound that is more radio-playable than others on the track. Drummer Lee Barratt’s (Gallows) tom-heavy tracking shines through especially in these tracks, but the guitar work of Em Foster (Nervus) and Simon Barker (The Smoking Hearts) backs up the love-sick, heartbroken lyrics being spat in fury from Roffey’s mouth.

The jewel in the crown of Funeral Shakes‘ debut is not one of those already mentioned though – that title is reserved for the furious, fast-paced anthem that is Circles. Sitting in the fifth slot on the record, the sheer pace and aggression in the hardcore-influenced verses provides a pit-worthy level of punch and grit before soaring into the “ooo”-heavy chorus. By itself, the song demonstrates all of the abilities of the band in one: the punk speeds and sloppiness, the tight vocal harmonies, the engineering know-how and the pure individuality of the band combining the aspects immaculately in such measure. A notable mention has to go to a song at the opposite end of the spectrum too though – namely closing track You’re So Bad. This tune draws heavily from surf rock influences with a lot of reverb and a fuzzy, warm distortion across the guitar sounds throughout the soft and swinging lament to end the album strongly.

Overall, a stunning debut from Funeral Shakes that rivals the work of the members’ other projects very very strongly. A triumphant first effort from a band who could have gone either way with the level of ambition behind them – fortunately the gamble has paid off. If this record is anything to go by, Funeral Shakes could cement their position as one of the most promising supergroups of the decade pretty quickly.

Of Mice & Men

Of Mice & Men – Defy

Many of Of Mice & Men‘s fans were surprised when clean vocalist Aaron Pauley confirmed he would be taking on lead vocal duties alongside the release of first single Unbreakable, but Defy takes on a blend of the sounds of Of Mice & Men‘s older material and Pauley’s former band Jamie’s Elsewhere during his vocal tenure.

Defy is kicked off with the title track which again shocked a large portion of the fanbase when it was released. A return to heavy riffs and crushing vocals is evident as soon as the song kicks in with screams and chugging guitars dominating all of the space on the recording. Come the chorus, these somewhat make way for a wide, sweeping gang vocal that demonstrates the incorporation of Restoring Force ideas for what seems like the first time since it was released. The heaviest breakdown since at least 2011’s The Flood hits around halfway through the track, bookended by the choruses that ground the track safely in the band’s style. A very promising start.

Following up the opener comes what is arguably the best song on the album – titled Instincts. The sheer power of the guitar work is sure to be enough to make many sit in awe of the tone crafted throughout, and backed up by the cymbal-filled drum wrap-around created by Tino and the producers that cuts through the chunky guitar-bass hybrid. The wah-riddled solo from Phil sounds dystopian in sections and is just plain technical in others – this is a lead guitarist who has his confidence and ability on display now more than ever before. It’s not all heavy and crazy though – lighter songs including pre-release single Back To Me are sure to keep fans of the newer eras of the band with the catchy choruses and more middle-of-the-road rock sound they have crafted.

Vocally throughout, Aaron sounds very much in practice as if he never slowed up his screaming at all. Forever YDG’n is written somewhat as a tribute to the first two albums of the band, and the vocal work throughout the tune does it justice entirely. Slightly contrasting the nostalgia is Sunflower which brings a new dual-scream dynamic with Pauley providing harsh growls alongside higher screams to create a wonderful blend that matches the feeling of the instrumentals perfectly.

The elephant in the room must be addressed though: yes, the track titled Money really is a cover of that Pink Floyd song. Was it expected? Not at all. Does it work? Honestly, it does in its own strange way. Taken as a single, the cover seems to be a rather strange rendition and outside the comfort zone of Of Mice & Men as a band, but when woven into the fabric of the album as a whole the placement of the song and the themes within the lyrics work to slot in seamlessly.

Overall, Defy is a fantastic return to form for a band that seemed to lose their way with their last release. Losing the spearhead figure of your band often crushes all morale and demands dramatic reinvention. As Robert Burns said in his poem from which the band’s name originated, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley” – Of Mice & Men had the perfect solution to Defy all expectations.

Rattlesnakes

Live: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Rock City – 6/12/17

Opening the show to a largely empty Rock City were Aussie alternative artist Ecca Vandal, who was almost a surprise addition to the lineup with quite how different she is from the other two bands. She and the band played through their electronic-influenced tunes taken largely from her debut self-titled album. A seemingly well-rehearsed machine, Ecca had a huge energy and optimism that would not be broken by the lack of crowd – a quality to be admired in a vocalist. Not a bad set at all, and definitely one that will have gained her some fans. [6/10]

Following up in the middle of the sandwich were Ipswich emo punks Basement who brought with them an instant wave of excitement as they hit the Nottingham stage. With a huge back catalogue to choose a setlist, the band produced a collection of their greatest hits from through their career. The weighting towards previous album Colourmeinkindness was somewhat surprising, but nonetheless the audience were as active through the older songs as the new; the pits weren’t big but they were very active throughout WholeSpoiledAquasun and Covet which got frontman Andrew Fisher into a mixture of humility and excitement as he finishing off their set with new fan favourite Promise EverythingBasement had set up headliners The Rattlesnakes immaculately well with a set as fantastic as usual. [9/10]

Closing up the night were Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes who had high hopes resting on their performance from the raving crowd. Carter is known as one of the best frontmen around, and the set did not disappoint; this whole tour was to celebrate where they are now as a band with Manchester and Brixton’s stops receiving a performance of all 23 songs to date. In Nottingham, the band pulled out a modest 19 – missing only Beautiful Death and Trouble from debut album Blossom, and opener/closer pairing Bluebelle and Neon Rust from this year’s Modern Ruin.

Exploding onto the stage somewhat fittingly with Primary Explosive, the energy in the room just lifted on seeing the long-term punk talisman set foot on the stage. The first section of the set played out non-stop BlossomRotten BlossomFangs and Juggernaut providing a reminder of just how riff-driven the band were from the very start, contrasting with the riff-vocal balance in the following VampiresWild Flowers had Frank asking for all the women in the audience to crowdsurf and urged everyone to keep them safe so they could experience it safely just as he has in most of his shows this year, which ended up leading to a stageful of ladies dancing with him and singing their lungs out – their faces just summed up the event as a whole.

Acid Veins and new single Spray Paint Love made their first outings on this tour and the Nottingham set contained both, performed with the swing and swagger they deserve from the very roots of the song. A crowd-surfing Frank and Dean both finished Jackals atop the moshing sea of people before the frontman made his way up to the balcony for the title track of the latest album. More crowdsurfing, an accidentally-stolen GoPro and a piano version of Loss later, the rollercoaster of emotion wasn’t near winding down as the band dedicated Thunder and Paradise to victims of terrorist attacks at musical events, citing the songs as chapter one and the epilogue of the same story in the fight against terrorism.

The Rattlesnakes finished their set off with a glorious rendition of I Hate You which was dedicated to a fan who had been punched in the face by someone nearby, who was rapidly ejected from the venue.  Thanking the crowd, Frank left the stage with a tangible mood in the air of the excitement and cathartic nature of the set that had just gone – a fitting feeling for the night. [10/10]

For those interested, The Rattlesnakes had taken her and a friend backstage, taken a photo with her and had a long chat – a class gesture to end a fantastic night from one of the best British bands of modern times.