Album Review | Slaves – ‘Acts of Fear and Love’

Slaves Acts of Fear and Love

Slaves Deliver with their Third Album as their Originality Takes Over Again!

Every orifice of Slaves sweats the punk fever: wild eyes; knuckles white; words dripping in malice spat through clenched teeth, it’s an unmistakable diagnosis. The rapid release of their LPs Are You Satisfied? and Take Control firmly established their reputation as rabble rousers, with their vitriolic instrumentals and lyrics that – at the surface – scorned at the suburban status quo. The fundamental ingredients for the punk genre were there. These boxes ticked, Slaves were making punk palatable. Their catchiness, with earworm tracks that sounded nasty while still being something you wouldn’t be too ashamed to show your mother, had us blindly content that this was punk in its purest, sterling form. Slaves are not punk musicians – not punk, in that there is no provocation, nothing that can deeply disturb you to the point where every cell in your body wants to revolt against it, or revolt with it. They are pseudo-punk, warping the genre to their own ends. The spirit of punk felt absent. Their latest album ‘Acts of Fear and Love’ is the fulfilment of their statement of intent. Finally, it feels as if Slaves are not being angry for anger’s sake, but have produced a valid critique of the modern times. This time, they mean it.

The album opens with ‘The Lives They Wished They Had’, a tannoy-wielding mockery of the vapidity of today’s generation: “When you put your latest purchases on public display? / Is it praise you’re after? Or is it something more? / Like a desperate need for acceptance that you just can’t ignore?”. The guitarwork is sneering, culminating in a flare up of noise and fury, with Issac screaming “SLAVES! SLAVES!” over and over as the instrumental is in its death throes. This, you’ll think, this is what I came for.

Cut and Run’, the single that garnered the most interest before the release of the album, is sonically inferior. There is a very conscious stride away from their usual tantrum trope in this track, but it’s clear that their darts are missing the board. The sing-song bridges, cacophonous screeching and repetition of ‘Cut and Run’ is, quite frankly, exhausting to listen to. ‘Bugs’ is cut from the same cloth. “Another let-down generation”, Isaac complains; another let-down stock punk phrase.

For ‘Magnolia’, Slaves sharpen their knives for an attack on conformity: “Did you know, that 65% of UK homes contain at least one magnolia wall?” The magnolia wall is a metaphor for the nightmarish, bourgeois status quo. They force the image down your throat until the sight of a magnolia wall is enough to make you wretch. Their aptitude for taking something mundane and distorting it into a horror is one of the greatest merits of Acts of Fear and Love.

Midway through the album is perhaps the most disconcerting track on it, ‘Daddy’ – but not for the reason you might expect. It’s the furthest thing from the typical stream of bile jetting out of the depths of their guts. It’s quiet; more than that, it’s deeply sad, causing you to jolt not from wrath, but from how utterly off-guard it catches you because it is so unlike anything you’d come to expect from Slaves. The guitar is still recognisable as the one you heard only a few tracks before, the medium for thrashing, youthful rebellion, yet here it is, tamed. It’s as if someone sat them down, and asked “Why are you so angry? Where did this come from?”. It’s a deep breath out; it’s a sigh of relief. A short lamentation of a father through the eyes of a child: “Wasted again on these late nights with strange men / Spending like it’s nothing ‘cause he don’t know how to make friends / But he’s trying so hard”.

Photo Opportunity’ is similarly out-of-kilter for their conventional repertoire. An acoustic guitar, playing an uncomfortable vaudevillian rhythm accompanies Isaac, bashfully stepping forward, asking quietly, “Hello, what are you trying to do to me?” It’s the obligatory attack on the media vultures that encircle the famous; every artist, beyond a certain point, feels the need to retaliate against them. Like a macabre carousel, round and round you go, until the chorus hits like a torrential downpour, the speed throws you from your horse, and Slaves, the ringmaster of this circus, is screaming bloody murder in your face.

Just when you think you’ve got Slaves pinned down, in Acts of Fear and Love, they’ve stripped themselves of their platitudes and run brazenly in the opposite direction. A bitter pill to swallow, perhaps, for fans who worship their previously anthemic, but conceptually stunted work; what Acts of Fear and Love lacks in catchiness, it compensates with original design. The final track of the same name profits from Slaves’ innate menace, with spoken-word verses charged with a stealth that is effective two-fold without the need for noise. This record is demonstrative of the fact that Slaves are more than one-trick ponies. They show glorious inconsistency, with almost every track illuminating a new side to the duo that is jarring in just the right way. ‘All talk, no trousers; all bark, no bite’: a perception Slaves have more than seen off – but until their versatility on Acts of Fear and Love melds with the snap of their previous albums, Slaves are far from done.

Words by Sophie Walker

Album Review: Delamere – ‘Delamere’


Creating a debut album is always a difficult task, because as much as you want to release it as quick as possible, you want to do yourself justice. Delamere have clearly been binding their time creating songs that they’re happy with and finally it’s been released, but have they done themselves justice?

The album opens with already released ‘Bright Young Things’, which is a strong opener and gives the listener an ideal introduction to Delamere. ‘Regress’ then follows which is a bright song with its key strengths coming from a strong melody and ear catching vocals.

Great long intro from ‘Kill it’ really sets the mood and builds it up nicely, until you’re welcomed with the warm vocals. They seem to have this bittersweet style which mixes slightly darker tones with uplifting vocals which act as the light at the end of the tunnel.

Great uses of the synth throughout the album and ‘Black and White space’ really showcases this as it doesn’t over power the song, it simply acts as a soft bed for the music and vocals to lie on. Their use of the synth is also really powerful on the song ‘Heart’, mixed with a really funky beat, once again boasting this dark undertone but using to contrast to the vocals, creating this euphoric sound from all corners.

‘Woods’ is possibly the mellowest of the bunch yet it still sticks to the bands quota. The song heavily leans on the exquisite vocals from the lead singer, and he delivers without fail. It breaks the album up perfectly because up until this song you’ve listened to a lot of banging drums and commanding guitars, so this acts perfectly as the calm before the storm.  ‘Headstrong’ quickly throws you back into the deep end and picks up where it left of, and is a solid addition to the album.

‘Betty Boop’ is nice little number before the big ending; although the song gets a bit repetitive the guitars lift the song up as they really drive it forward and makes the song an important component to the album.

It all ends with ‘Rain’ which is a strong ending to a whirlwind of an album. Although it’s not as in your face or as memorable as “’Kill It’ and ‘Heart’ it has its own qualities. Once again it has this dark side which finally breaks out in this song, and the vocals are as consistent as they have been throughout the album.

As a debut album, Delamere can be happy with this release as not one song falls below the average bar, with them all hitting easily over a 6.5, which makes a strong album. The band clearly has a sound that they’re going for and have executed it perfectly throughout the album faltering and no point. These songs will easily make for good live music, as they have this live feel to them when you’re listening, so seeing them live would enhance this song even more.

Words by Alex Wise @al4563

Dragon Turtle- ‘Distances’ Review


There has been a host of albums released over the summer, and due to the large amounts of music out there some go under the radar, and ‘Distances’ from Dragon Turtle is one that should be noted.

The album is a slow and soothing one, as it simply drifts from one song to another, as if they are all one whole song. ‘Narwale’ is a perfect way to open the album up as demands you to listen in the subtlest of ways.

‘Beard’ achieves the same goal as it continues to settle you down as if it’s a stress relief tape, however unlike a stress relief tape it manages to keep your attention. ‘Summer Drive’ introduces a sly violin which brings a nice feel to the song, and gives it something else to separate it from the others.

Sometimes these types of album don’t get enough credit because people assume it’s easy to make music like this. Those thoughts couldn’t further from the truth, as the structure and placing of each element is even harder because you have to remain subtle with it, but yet stay entertaining.

At times the band seem to slip into this somewhat psychedelic place because of the slow pace and ooo’s and ahh’s. This is best demonstrated on ‘Odaiba’ with the continuous strumming of the acoustic guitar and the atmospherics surrounding the whole song.

‘Arctic Orion’ is possibly the best on the album as it sums the band up within this whole song, as they have each of their qualities being displayed to their highest ability. It just slowly jangles along keeping that psychedelic undertone throughout it, which is helped along with the hazy vocals in the background.

One thing that may hold this album back is that it shows no real versatility, as the band steer clear of picking up the pace and keep everything slowly ticking over. Yet this serves its purpose as an album you have on in the background just lingering as you carry on with the rest of your day, which is never a bad thing.

Dragon turtles have done an excellent job on this album as it manages to stay above average throughout each song, which is an extremely hard thing to do. However there’s no real song that sticks in the mind and refuses to leave your head, which is perhaps is a quality the band will pick up as they continue to write songs.

Words By Alex Wise @al4563


Reverend and the Makers – Thirty Two



In June 2012 Reverend and The Makers found a new sound a style for the music which was demonstrated well in their third album, @Reverend Makers, which reached No.16 in the album charts. To solidify this new sound and see what else they can do with it they have decided make it the centre point in their new album Thirty Two, and try to attract some new fans.

@Reverend Makers was full of tunes that could make a crowd shake and bounce until their legs fell off, which I believe is this primary target for this album.  ‘Detonator’, kicks the album off which is equivalent to a big bang in a silent room, and this is a prevalent feature throughout most of the album.  The high energy continues through the ‘I Spy’, ‘The Devils Radio’ and ‘Nostalgia’ as the tempo is remained and McClure’s vocals presence are at the blunt of the song, egging any crowd to jump along with him.

‘Happy Song’ finally slows it all down, and allows you to have a rest. Unfortunately the song is full of cliché lyrics like “Sun might Shine, Sky Might be Blue”, which shows lack of expression and lazy lyrics, also McClure’s vocals walks a very thin line as they begin to pull at the nerves with his high tones.

They couldn’t keep it slow for more than one song as ‘Different Trains’ picks up for where they left off with a bouncy beat along with a haunting riff and melody. As they continue to play with the soundboard through ‘Time’ and ‘Old Enough (To Know Better), your head can’t help but spin, as you feel like you should be at a rave to continue to listen to the music.

‘Play Me’ is possibly one of the highlights of the album for me as it doesn’t demand your attention, and because of that you listen with more intent than you did the previous. It’s possibly McClure’s best vocal performance as this is where it’s probably stripped down to the minimum, however still holding on to some of those effects.

‘The Only One’ and ‘Your Girl’ see us out with a kick up the arse as the loud electronic sounds are re-installed along with the get up and live your life beat. The album seems to be further addition to their previous album and works rather well, as it will smash its goal of getting a crowd hurdling over one another. However the album only seems to serve that purpose, as it wouldn’t be something you could have on in the background as the key elements of the song (bass and beat) would be lost. This will not be ground breaking or a demanding much from you, but it will keep the REV army buying tickets and intact, while possibly recruiting even more rave heads.

Words By Alex Wise @al4563




The Vaccines – Come of Age


This post has been a long time coming, I’ve been an awful music reviewer for the last month or so with all the work load and with uni coming back into play. After a lot of thought, and looking at how much work I will be doing I shall be aiming for at least TWO good posts a week, and I do mean good posts. Hopefully I will get a bit more time, and I shall be able to do even more, not promising anything. Right, The Vaccines, Come of Age, the second album from The Vaccines, released on the Columbia Label, and working with the producer Ethan Jones. Ethan Jones has worked with some good artists, those being Laura Marling , Kings of Leon and Paolo Nutini. There was a lot of talk coming up  to this album, and I was quite excited for it, also after hearing ‘Teenage Icon’ and ‘No Hope’, but a part of me wished there was more.

The Album

I’ll begin with saying that it isn’t a terrible album, if you LOVE The Vaccines, then it’s probably going to be the best thing you’ve ever heard. It stayed in my car for healthy 2 weeks, this was not out of wanting it to be in there, this was just out of being lazy, if I wasn’t being lazy it probably would have left my car on the second day and here’s why.

I don’t think the album had a lot to offer, what it did have to offer was catchy songs, with it thought some of them were borderline pop music, decent pop music, but none the less pop music. After I was half way through the third time of listening to the album, I felt there was nothing else the album had left to offer, making it quite substance – less, and quite predictable. All the songs names were the chorus, or in the chorus, this were one of the factors making it predictable. I’d look at the case and think ‘What’s next? oh bad mood, lets wait for him to say bad mood’. I was also looking really forward to listening to Freddie Cowan’s guitar riffs and solos, yes they were all very catchy, but again I thought it was quite predictable because the solo just followed Justin’s singing, so i thought he played it quite safe for a good guitarist, and he is I saw him live and I thought he was extremely energetic when he was playing. The album for me wasn’t all bad points, it still had good points…

I’m not a music snob, I do like catchy music, I do like singing in the car every no and then. I think it’s rather a nice summer album, something nice to be driving round with, just generally singing to and that. My favourite track on the record would have to be ‘Weirdo’ or ‘Ghost Town’, mainly because I think ‘Weirdo’ is freaky, and can be a bit unnerving, also I like Justin’s lyrics in the song, I shall get on to those later. Also ‘Ghost Town’ seems to be the new ‘Noogard’, which also is quite catchy and 2 minutes of indie bliss.

Justin’s lyrics are probably what really lift the standards of this record, as there’s a lot lyrics that are quite amusing, I can’t be bothered to find them them out exactly, but the ones in ‘I wish I was a girl’, ‘Weirdo’ and ‘No Hope’, really like the lyrics in no hope.


Not a bad second album, I still think The Vaccines have something to offer, perhaps in their third album. I don’t want them just to stay an Indie-pop band, because I believe that they’re better than that. I’d like to see them be a bit more daring in their third album, a bit more raw and not so polished up. Also, let Freddie really go on the guitar and perhaps get him on vocals or something, I dunno. However I’m still going to see them when they come round to Birmingham, so they must be doing something right (keeping the tickets cheap). So if you’re seeing them in Birmingham, let me know.