The band cite influences from Coheed and Cambria to Johnny Cash via The Cure. Regardless of influences I found the powerful bass, imaginative guitar and clever drumming compelling. To my ears their sound is reminiscent of Foo Fighters, and Panic at the Disco in places, Nickelback in others yet never slipping into pastiche.
‘Burning’ opens with shock and awe, all riff and roar before the Gary McGuinness vocal invites us into the body of the song only to have it stolen away by the guitars which dance all over the track. ‘Never Let Go’ is in the same vein, riff driven with bass like a drone strike. The chorus of both songs hook you in as the vocal soars; McGuiness goes from full-throated roar to intimate whisper with apparent ease.
The single ‘Living A Lie’ builds from a picked guitar line with a subdued vocal building in power before the bass and drums pump into the chorus, whilst ‘Rat Race’ is a reflective track, more orchestrated than the earlier pieces, yet still massive and satisfying in the middle.
A few tracks plough on with a more heavy metal vibe – driven guitar and vocal over speaker bursting bass and drums – whilst others (such as ‘Centre Of The Universe’) are full of wonderful pauses and unexpected changes in direction, hooky choruses and solos.
‘The Change’ explodes into life but leaves enough room for the singer to tell his story before the instruments thunder back into control and lead us into ‘Catalyst’, which is where my Nickelback reference kicks in. It is none the worse for that, as it’s fast paced and full of energy. ‘Ragin’ has the same dark energy and last track ‘Prisoner’ starts at pace, the guitars sink back to allow the vocal space but halfway in the power returns as the drums and bass slowly sink brooding into silence.
MMXV is a nicely balanced album with enough variation in vocal style and tempo to keep you interested through its 43 minutes. There is much of the “young man trying to make sense of the world” about it and hints of political awareness and social commentary. I’d recommend you pay attention and play it loud (as if you need telling).
For fans of new rock music this album is a little piece of perfect. Gary (vocal/guitar), Tom (drums) and Pete (bass) have produced a sublime piece of guitar-drenched rock thunder. This album has been on repeat for 3 weeks now and there is still no sign of me tiring of it.