Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Lavotchkin/Crocus - Split EP - Review

Label: We Heart Records

Release Date: 29th June 2009

Track Listing:
1. Lavotchkin - You Were Dawn
2. Lavotchkin - Abandon/Introspection
3. Lavotchkin - Clouds
4. Crocus - A Spiritual Polemic
5. Crocus - Ignorance We Swallow
6. Crocus - Fear of Water


Hailing from 'Oop Norf' (Newcastle to be precise-ish) Lavotchkin are a five piece hardcore, punk 'n' roll band. They have just completed recording their debut album, and these three tracks should provide a clear indication of what is to be expected.

'You Were Dawn' gets off to a fine start, the closest I've heard to early Hope Conspiracy in a wee while, with driving guitars and incessant drumming. The THC comparisons end there though, with the barked vocals held a lot lower in the mix. The overall impression is of sheer intensity, and the lyrics convey a hopelessness and desperation for which the exact reasoning remains elusive. This elusiveness remains to the end, with the closing paradoxically upbeat message that 'in this night a light still shines'.

Next up is 'Abandoned/Introspection', a number that is significantly different in tone and execution. Here, the band opt for a much slower approach, letting the music build, ebb and flow and displaying a good grasp of song structure and dynamics. This approach gives the band time to flex their musical abilities and particularly suits the vocal style. However, the musicianship appears laboured for much of the song, slipping into monotonous repetition that ultimately leaves the mind wandering. A slow, almost beautiful ending rescues matters.....just.

The closer 'Clouds' reverts to earlier type, opting for another blast through straight up pissed off hardcore territory. It feels refreshing after the slower middle number, but you are left feeling slightly cheated with the loss of experimentation.

Overall, a solid contribution to this split EP from Lavotchkin, boding well for the debut album to follow but not quite floating this reviewers boat yet.


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Formed in Summer 2007, Crocus are a screamo act from Falmouth, Cornwall, UK. The four-piece represent a particularly passionate collision of subversive political thought and chaotic hardcore. Their political beliefs are represented in their music as a constant refusal to tow the line of expectancy, subverting the anticipated flow of their music and manifesting in a mass of shifting time signatures that lack any form of coherent framework. Surprisingly, this works!

Following on from their first EP 'The Worst Kind of Joy is Hope', released in May 2008, this split release contains three new tracks. The opener 'A Spiritual Polemic' begins with a hauntingly melodic bassline, a trick last put to good effect on the intro to the closing track of their first EP 'Eight Great Fears'. This familiar introduction brings with it a sense of completion, closing one chapter and starting anew.

The screeching vocals begin a mournful lament as the bassline builds, "We say God is dead, but only dead if believed to be so" followed by a rousing drum roll that seems to wake the band from their slumber and burst them into life. What follows is a bewildering bombardment of time changes, strained vocals, all interspersed with beautifully melodic, shifting guitar rhythms. There is even time for a funky interlude at 1.53, with the band displaying a hitherto unheard ear for some early RHCP inspired stylings.

The remainder of the EP, consisting of the two songs 'Ignorance We Swallow' and 'Fear of Water', is characterised by a hefty nod to the bands earlier work, allied to a willingness to confound expectations even further than previously. The shifting rhythms come both thicker and faster than before, which has the effect of tempering the urgency of the band somewhat. Whilst their earlier material burned with an intensity that propelled the listener to attempt to break every inanimate object within 500 yards, it seems a tendency to over-elaborate may have blunted their impact.

This increasingly complicated song construction may represent a shifting sound for the (still young) band, in which case it will certainly be interesting to see what their next release sounds like. However, despite this gripe, the band still remain one of the best hardcore acts on this tiny isle of ours. Beautiful moments, such as the spoken word outro to 'Ignorance We Swallow', where the vocalist urges us that "Standing still is history, it's time to move", litter the bands output and place them in a league of their own when it comes to politically charged screamo.


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This CD can be purchased from the lovely folks over at http://www.weheartrecords.co.uk/, the price being five of your English pounds.

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