Of Allies

Tempers EP

Written by: TL on 24/08/2014 16:40:43

One thing I've been noticing in this my eighth year of reviewing is that I know of so many active bands by now, that I rarely review artists that I have no prior knowledge of. In an effort to mix things up a bit in that department however, I've picked up a number of EP's recently, one of them being "Tempers", the debut from Yorkshire-based quartet Of Allies. On here the band offers five tracks of well-crafted alternative rock that seems inspired by the American trend from around the 2k turn, bringing bands like Hoobastank and Breaking Benjamin to mind while keeping a more steady mid-tempo and contemporary atmosphere, justifying a comparison to the likes of Sent By Ravens as well.

The main reason "Tempers" drew my interest is that Of Allies show an impressive ability to write good verses here early on. Elements are introduced gradually in a way that makes you notice the impact of each as a listener, and with an airy vocal delivery, you get the feeling that the songs have both atmosphere and a naturally flowing sense of progression to them. Conversely, the band's weakness to me is in their choruses. Despite these actually being quite catchy and recognisable, there's a tone to both the guitar distortion and extended vocal notes that both feel a bit old-fashioned by now (hence my referencing bands whose heyday was ten years ago), and also gets stagnant and predictable quickly. Especially when the band abandons their careful ways and opt to make sudden, dynamic jumps up to these simplistic choruses, it feels a bit too stark a contrast to the intricate ways that lead them there. A good pre-chorus here or there would do wonders I think, or perhaps taking a bit more risks in the choruses themselves.

It's the kind of technicality that will make the songs seem "simply good" as opposed to "tiny masterpieces", but that of course is hardly the worst knock on you that you can get as a band. And generally "Tempers" is surprisingly consistent, with the observations I've made being valid across all tracks. It's for better and worse of course, because there's not much to set the mid-tempo rockers apart from one another, and I can't really decide whether I really do prefer "Ghosts" and "In Stasis" slightly over the rest. The solos routinely placed towards the ends of tracks for instance, could do with some more inventive ideas, feeling solid but also a bit run-of-the-mill, and perhaps that's the headline for the list of details Of Allies can get to work on post-"Tempers". They need to set their songs apart more and they need to set themselves apart more. The good news is that despite these details, they have done well with the tried and true methods they have applied here, coming up with a straight up alt rock release that's a stimulating listen as long as you don't overthink it. And considering that they handle the basics so comfortably, I for one hope for them that they can retain their deftness even while getting a bit more ingenious on future records. Meanwhile though, I caution them against going the safe route, lest they end up sliding towards being labelled a bit boring.

Download: Ghosts, In Stasis
For The Fans Of: Hoobastank, Breaking Benjamin, Sent By Ravens, Exit Ten
Listen: facebook.com/OfAllies

Release date 15.07.2014
Bad Timing Records

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