Northern Blues

Splitmind

Written by: PP on 12/05/2017 23:10:40

Melodic hardcore never quite took off in Denmark as it did internationally, where bands like The Ghost Inside, Hundredth, and Stick To Your Guns broke new ground and generated a buzz about hardcore not seen since NYHC origins during the 80s. The few attempts locally have mostly collapsed under their own uncharismatic weight, where memorable songwriting has been but an afterthought, leaving behind a muddy mess of down tuned guitars instead. Enter Copenhagen quartet Northern Blues, featuring members from WOES and Hexis among others. They already impressed us on their 2015 EP "Nowhere", and now armed with a refined production and vastly improved songwriting, their debut album "Splitmind" elevates the band into international competition by being simply the finest piece of melodic hardcore produced in Denmark to date.

Stylistically, the band utilizes complex polyrhythms and lingering guitar melodies that draw inspiration from The Ghost Inside, Counterparts, It Prevails, Hundredth and other heavyweights in the melodic hardcore scene. The soundscape is expansive and characterized by the wheezing lead guitars that float loftily alongside down-tuned chugging and metalcore passages. Together with the rhythmic percussion, they forge a dynamic instrumental landscape that's as complex as it is awe-inspiring. The expression is made complete by the piercing roars of William De Bourgh, whose John Henry (Darkest Hour) style delivery feels both chaotic and uncontrollable. Mastering the art of ferocious and throaty screaming yet enunciating the lyrics in an understandable fashion is an underrated feat, and when it's done as successfully as here, the result is nothing short of brilliant.

Curiously enough, the choice for backing vocals hasn't been the traditional whiny and high-pitched emo/post-hardcore during choruses, but a more subdued and mid-range approach instead. It's a great choice because it immediately sticks out on the genre map. A track like "A Friend Of Mine" is incredible as a result, with a hauntingly catchy chorus that sounds totally unique. The same applies to the infectiously catchy, high-octane piece "Dust". Elsewhere, the band goes for Darkest Hour style tear-and-shred, such as on "Hush", or "When The Lights Hit Low", where the latter focuses on desperation-driven vocals that alter between cleans and screams nicely.

More importantly, all of the above is drenched in crystal clear production. The guitars have room to explore the soundscape up and down, and the raw screams don't overpower any other instrument in the process. Better yet - the songs are absolutely fantastic. It says a lot you can go this long in the review and not name "Through Me", "Faded" or "Skin", all excellent melodic hardcore pieces that are on par with the genre heavyweights, but suffice the say, the songwriting is on a level far above the vast majority of their Danish counterparts. Denmark, brace yourselves for the next international breakthrough: Northern Blues.

8

Download: A Friend Of Mine, Hush, Dust, Through Me, Soothing, Faded, Skin
For the fans of: Darkest Hour, Hundredth, The Ghost Inside, Counterparts, Gwen Stacy
Listen: Facebook

Release date 03.03.2017
Prime Collective

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