Love|Less is Shanksy on vocals, Joe Shanks and Sam Dyche on guitar, Emerson D’Cruze-King on bass and Josh Willis on drums. The Londoners combine current day punk rock with the “beguiling long since passed sounds of early 00’s MTV alt-rock”.
Last summer’s EP, Hollow Faith, earned them plaudits from the likes of Kerrang!, Rock Sound, Scuzz and others. Now this summer’s almost over, the band haven’t quite left fans high and dry without offering new effort, EP Act 1: Heaven, which came out on Friday, September 9.
Press for the band describes the new release as where, “dynamic instrumentation and anthemic choruses full of intense and catchy pop-infused vocals, gang shouts and scream-along lyrics take centre stage”. Influences are variously listed as AFI, Linkin Park, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Bring Me The Horizon and Sleeping With Sirens.
Reflecting on Act 1: Heaven, frontman, Shanksy, says, “’Heaven’ speaks of a lack of hope, similarly to our previous release ‘Hollow Faith’, only colder. ‘Act 1’ is the beginning of a trilogy that marks the de[s]cent into darkness, where there is no light, and I feel that our fans will be able to relate to that in many ways”.
Its opening track, “Omen”, begins with an enormous heartbeat, one sounding that of a giant. Piano, very much continuing that feel, adds further intimidation. Then the drums hammer in along with urgent and immediate guitar. It’s certainly epic, and suits its role as the opener to the EP.
“Heaven” is a tad triumphant, maybe a little less intense than the track before. Things are still very much high octane, though. The middle section sees a refrain for the vocals, letting the sound breathe and the words sink into the head of the listener. It trudges with despondency, almost at odds with the vocals at the top of their lungs. Backing vocals whoop, like they do at the start, before the track ends suddenly.
Then “Downpours” opens with piano, delicate, before some crushing, heavy guitar chords. The drums, with a massive sound, punctuate sparser moments in the track, then ringing chords build the track up, again. Some of the vocal delivery may remind one of Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix. Syncopated moments on drum and bass give the track a bit of groove.
The eerie “Ghost” has muted guitar and industrial drums, the vocals moody and a tad whispered. The pace picks up, drama as ever constant as the now chugging of the aforementioned guitar. Things get heavy before a refrain, calm, washes over the listener. A flourish of guitar greets the fadeout, high register to counter the overall low and, at times, guttural sound of those chords played throughout. Both ends of the noise spectrum capable of bursting both eardrums?
Considering the piece as a whole, it largely delivers, with the opener, “Omen”, a particular highlight. The ‘heartbeat’ introduction of the track is ominous; like the tolling of a bell, the time for the hangman or executioner to earn their macabre crust. All those things yet, also, grand and epic. With “Heaven” things very much continue in a triumphant vein, just maybe taking the foot off the gas slightly.
The second half, “Downpours”, with its addictive drum sound and syncopated moments, is also quite satisfying because of the comparisons to be drawn between the vocals on it and the delivery of Jacoby of Papa Roach fame. The way the sedate refrain washes over the listener in “Ghost” almost reaches transcendent qualities.
The only problem, as clever as the end of the track and, in turn, the EP, is, it seems a bit of a damp squib. Yes, going from the guttural lows to high register sonic assaults proves very much that both are equally capable of crushing ear cavities. Whether booming low, or drilling pneumatically high, simply replicating, in reverse order, the EP’s opener would’ve been far more satisfying. What’s more, it would’ve lent the EP a progressive quality, though perhaps punks aren’t keen on such, what they’d consider, pompous, overly grand song writing.
Love|Less, bar a few minor quibbles, have delivered something reasonably engaging. They seem to straddle the line between heavy and something that’s reasonably listenable to those not too keen on hard rock and heavy metal bands. Love|Less’s Act 1: Heaven EP can purchased on iTunes here.
Words by Andrew Watson