Although not a terribly new release, having ‘officially’ been around since May and ‘really’ out a while before then (as is the way occasionally with self-released records), I would be remiss in my duty if I didn’t look at Emergence. The debut album from the Carlisle rockers, I am not ashamed to admit that it has become a firm favourite of mine since I first listened at the end of last year – the result of booking them to play in Lancaster on one of my shows.
What I didn’t know much about at that point was that their live show itself – a rare spectacle of tight musicianship, titanic stage presence and visuals (including strobes) which gained them an overwhelmingly positive crowd and local media response. Since that first show in December they have enjoyed a successful touring jaunt with Our Famous Dead in April, coming back through Lancaster to headline Arnie-Val and drop another great set.
With heads beginning to turn because of this growing, glowing reputation and ears pricking to hear where this ballsy new convergence of metal/rock/prog/post-hardcore/electronica sound is coming from, in my book The Sun Explodes are definitely one to keep tabs on. Back in the studio to record a follow-up already, Emergence presents a delectable case to hear in the meantime.
this ballsy new convergence of metal/rock/prog/post-hardcore/electronica
Opening with an atmospheric, almost haunting intro named after the album (or possibly the other way around), a pulsing bass-line ushers towards a thick pool of riffs with a cutting synth finale. The pace and gradual build of the track really do exemplify ‘emergence’ – dropping perfectly into lead single ‘Honour Bound’, which displays the band’s signature transition between heavy and mellow, as well as the pleasing convergence of lead instruments guitar and synthesiser.
Alongside TSE’s obvious instrumental prowess, ‘Honour Bound’ debuts Dave’s impressive voice. No, truly impressive – dropping a beautiful, powerful front to the track and album, continuing with even more impressive form in notable tracks ‘Resplendence’, ‘We’re Not Soldiers’ and ‘Line One’. The range displayed over these songs is almost uncanny, with sweeping falsetto highs delivered with practised ease. Since the release of Emergence, Dave has promised bigger and better vocals with new material. To be honest, I’m scared.
Despite the incorporation and convergence of multiple genres’ characteristics into their music, this is only of benefit to the final product – the raw technicality of guitar lines (such as that in ‘Line One’) and bloodthirsty drumming ability (showcased in ‘Second Sight’) exemplify the coherence and musicianship involved in both lead and rhythm sections. Despite many modern rock bands throwing a synth in as a gimmick, this is also proven not to be the case here – with clever interaction between synthesiser and guitar showing the MicroKorg to be a natural part of the TSE lineup.
brilliantly crafted and insanely fun to blast
If there is one bone to pick with this album, it is definitely clear to those who’ve had the fortune to catch a live show. Recorded and mixed on a small budget, the sound of the album is great… it just doesn’t showcase The Sun Explodes’ real sound. When I was pushed for a blurb to advertise their set at Arnie-Val, I went for ‘synthy wrecking-ball of rock’. Despite being brilliantly crafted and insanely fun to blast at eardrum-rattling levels, I wouldn’t go this far to describe Emergence.
Despite this, there have been a few over-harsh criticisms floating around of late that I’d just like to deal with. Firstly, one reviewer had the audacity to suggest TSE were ‘an Enter Shikari tribute act’ (The Ark Preston). I really don’t know where to begin dispelling this. Maybe we’ll start with the complete difference in style, agenda and influences and then hop straight onto the fact that Enter Shikari haven’t released a truly decent record since Take To The Skies (so shoot me) whereas Emergence is bursting at the seams with top-drawer writing and execution. I also saw them come under fire in one review for their usage of backing screams (featured in tracks such as ‘We’re Not Soldiers’). Are they the most super-awesome-amazing-wondrous screams ever? No. But they work and bring in that extra element to the song and album.
I’m not going to sit and hunt down everyone who ever had a bad word to say against The Sun Explodes. That would be futile and, as they always say, ‘haters be hatin’’ – and Emergence is a fine first album. This reviewer’s ears are pricked for the follow-up.