Trepidation EP

Written by: TL on 10/03/2013 13:43:08

With our recent rush of new blood posting reviews in a frenzy, one is currently forced to stay considerably more on the toes to keep one's initials on the frontpage than ever before. In an effort to make my presence felt however, let me tell you a bit about British newcomers Northpaw and their EP "Trepidation". With this early effort, the Surrey quintet establish a sound midways between post-hardcore and metalcore, landing in a bleak, frantic soundscape not far removed from likely influences Underoath and Architects. Abrasive, aggressive guitar work is the order of the day, with fast-paced rhythms and a vocal back-and-forth between scathing hardcore barks and urgent, top-of-the-lungs clean singing.

At the zenith of "Trepidation"'s expression we find song number two, the stand-out track "Face Needs" which combines the catchiest chorus on offer with a raging assertation that something "is not open for discussion!", which instantly seizes your attention regardless of whether you were paying attention or not. The record I think would have done well to include more hooks of similar strength, because it might have helped it offset the fact that things often feel a little too straight-forward in the cleaner, more melodically inclined passages, when compared to the jagged riffage of the screamed verses, which sounds appropriately intent on cracking the walls and foundation of any venue or rehearsal room it might be played in.

Foregoing the argument over whether or not the predictable screamed verse/clean chorus is actually helping metalcore grow more stale by the band, it does at least here illuminate the area that firmly anchors Northpaw in the category of acts that still have something to work on to grow their identity. The clean singing, however solidly sung, sounds like it is delivered at the breaking point of the singer's ability, and hence you get the feeling that he's too occupied with managing his notes, to pour the excessive emotion and variety into them, if he wanted to manage the fierce howls of his partner in crime. It gets a little too need, especially when the guitars also resign to more conventional chord-patterns for these parts, and the deficiencies in this area where the band really should be delivering their hooks, means that you get to feeling them like "just another metalcore band, nothing more, nothing less".

Fortunately for Northpaw, monochrome and energetic hardcore music like theirs has seemed in high course in Britian of late, so I'm sure plenty of domestic fans will take kindly to them - as clearly evidenced by the shining marks the band refers to on their facebook page. Over here in Denmark however, I'm neither entirely impressed, nor entirely disappointed, I just think we have yet to hear from Northpaw, what about them that sets them apart as more than just another in a long row of bands that merely imitate the greats that went before them.

Download: Face Needs
For The Fans Of: Architects, Underoath, Comeback Kid, Warship

Release Date 28.01.2013

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