Up River

Rough Ground EP

Written by: DR on 27/06/2012 00:13:56

For all the praise and hype the hardcore scene across the pond is currently earning, the scene here in the UK has been... err... 'quietly' gathering momentum for a while now. There are a handful of very promising bands still in their infancy, so it feels like we're at the point when, any day/week/month now, one of these bands could deliver a masterpiece, causing the scene to explode.

Among the plethora of young acts hoping to stake their own claim in the UK hardcore landscape is Up River, a four-piece originally from Brighton, but are now hailing somewhere here in the Midlands. Despite having only one official release (this) and one demo out, they have been making some noise across Europe with two successful tours under their belt, and are currently writing their first full length album.

From the previous paragraph you should take away two things: Firstly, that they are still newcomers; secondly, that they are clearly passionate about this. Those two points ultimately define "Rough Ground". It's hardcore by a band still learning the trade, with little innovation towards themes, vocals, or musicianship. However, that's the point: Up River are at that stage when they are blatantly raw, aren't trying to offer anything new, their influences are obvious, but are hoping to offset any doubts about their chops by being unrelentingly passionate. Moreover, by being so raw, the potential is laid bare for all to hear.

Opening with "City Blues", after a brief muted guitar introduction, the tone is set with a strained cry of "I feel like I've been here for the past decade / Strangers with familiar faces watch me / As they cross over the road to their liars parade." It's claustrophic, confused, angry, and the frontman instantly cuts an alienated figure; it's pretty much how you'd expect a hardcore song to start, but Up River are entirely convincing with it. Following is the shortest song, "Closure", at a brief one minute and thirty-seven seconds. Its no-fat, to-the-point execution allows vocalist Alex Batchelor to deliver his most unrestrained performance of the entire record, consequently making "Closure" the stand-out track.

This EP isn't just raw in that the band are young, but the production is, too. Not only does this make every scream/shout/cry/yell - and the transitions from one to the other - more impressive, but it also emphasizes the more cathartic lines, ultimately making them more affecting.

If you're clued up on the UK hardcore scene, "Rough Ground" will reaffirm the quality currently being produced; if you're not, it serves as a great introduction into an exciting era of underground music for the UK. As for Up River? They're not reinventing anything, but for a band's first record to sound so assured is rare. Though not ready to be hailed as the future leaders of UK hardcore, they are certainly ones to watch


Download: Closure, Rough Ground
For The Fans of: Defeater, Have Heart, Bastions
Listen: Facebook

Release Date 01.05.2012
Anchors Aweigh Records

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