The Magnified EP

Written by: PP on 30/12/2006 14:48:34

The first impression of Smokesuit's debut EP "The Magnified" is an interesting one, as the post-grunge meets alternative rock isn't something you have heard too often in the last couple of years, so your ears will immediately tick their suspicion-meter on. Consequently the first couple of listens won't open the EP for you, and you might throw it away rating it just as 'another Soundgarden' rip off more or less. Hopefully most listeners will have more patience than that, as the EP packs together more great grunge-influenced tracks than other bands could do in a decade once you pay a little more attention to it.

The EP starts out strong - very strong - with "Cyanide Mindeye". It's a rocking track, with plenty of speed and originality within. Vocalist Marcus Hietanen masters the art of swift vocal pace and pitch switches, adding the much needed character to the EP. This same attitude/character feel is found on other Finnish bands like Disco Ensemble, however far apart these two bands' sounds may be.

By the time you reach the fantastic chorus of the next (and best) track of the EP, "Ape", the importance of the vocals has burned itself into your brains. Because lets be frank here, even though the instruments can be quite funky like the feedback-meets-distortion bits in the aforementioned track, at most times they are basic chords, albeit very catchy ones. This immediately raises the chance that the band might be forgotten into the gray mass of bands, but fortunately this is not the case as the band shows on "The Big Surprise". While still not technical, the silent chords and notes add grunge-like dirty atmosphere to the song - perhaps even a smoked sound - making the band's name fit them perfectly as well as immediately reminding you of Nirvana's classic "Something In The Way".

The songs on the second half of the EP justify the Nirvana reference in this review. Oftentimes it would be easy to imagine these were songs written by Cobain but sung by Hietanen instead, and while some may consider this a bad aspect, I found myself enjoying the more than obvious grunge references like in "Disposable". Who couldn't hum along to those dirtily distorted, lowly tuned guitars and the calming voice? "LEARN!" is a track where, once again, we are reminded of the impeccable sense of strangely soothing melody the band has. The songs are never aggressive, but neither are they soft or tame, and always remember to push your catchy-chorus oriented mind a bit further, while duly noting the tracks are never obviously catchy nor radio friendly, and that you have to pay attention to figure them out fully.

Smokesuit can be damn proud of their debut EP, because aside from the few references to past (Alice In Chains, Soundgarden) and current grunge (Seether) as well as alt rock bands (QOTSA, Foo Fighters), the band has achieved a sound that's unmistakably theirs especially on the first half of the record. "Ape" - the grunge/post-grunge song of the year? Definitely. If I was a record label exec, I'd be offering a deal to these guys straight away.

Download: Ape, Cyanide Mindeye
For the fans of: Nirvana, Queens Of The Stone Age, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains
Listen: Myspace

Release date 01.10.2006

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