Release Date: 9th February
Label: Self Release
Winchester, a band that hails out of, well, not Winchester, debuts with their LP, “Life Begins At These Dead Ends.” This eclectic and dynamic three piece consists of Adam Catalan fronting with distinctive vocals and driving basslines, Scott Mahon adding backing vocals and ripping lead guitar, and thundering from the back is Max Edkins on the drums.
The album tells a story, and has a distinctive start, middle and end, not just signposted with suggestive song titles, but with accompanying style. Produced by Dan Weller, whom you may know from SiKth, who has also produced for the likes of Enter Shikari, Winchester’s first LP comes from good stock.
The opener “Life Begins” is not what I anticipated, with melodic guitars and harmonised vocals, that wouldn’t be out of place on a good indie pop record, it really feels like the album is being eased into life, but knowingly building towards something a little more of what I was after. A thunderous distorted vocal, leads to the drop of a riff which leaves the opening melody a distant memory, now a hard hitting breakdown finishes the song in real style, leaving me eager to get on to see what the rest of this LP has to offer.
“Diamond”, the second and headline track of the album, continues where the opener left off. This time the balance of melodic soaring vocals, crushing guitar riffs and the metal influence seem to find their best levels in the entire album.
Track 3 “Animal” is just what the name suggests. It all kicks off with frantic drumming from Max, and this a real sonic assault, I couldn’t stop myself from bobbing my head during the breakdown, I would imagine this track live is going to be something to behold.
The centre point of the album “At These” starts with a twinkling glockenspiel which punctuates the song throughout, and a popping baseline that Tim Commerford would be proud of, kicks the song off with some gusto. Interestingly this is an instrumental track, which doesn’t go unnoticed and it catches you by surprise when song closes with none of what you had come to expect from the vocals on the previous tracks. No doubt this hinge point of the album is designed in narrative, to almost refresh the palate.
“Problem” and “Line Up”, the next two tracks up, have differing personalities again. “Problem” is definitely post hardcore influenced, edging towards a pop like chorus, but ends in a now familiar heavier structure and sound. “Line ups” opening riff really is a belter. The verse and breakdown, as a metal fan, makes me feel pretty warm and fuzzy inside. The chorus is catchy and soon becomes familiar as it asks you to repeatedly line up, line up.
Track 8, “Set me Apart”, does just that. I think it stands out as the weakest track on the record. A completely different guitar sound opens, reminiscent of a well known American funk rock band, but as a counter point to the vocals works to a certain extent. Im all for eclectic, and i’m sure in the story they are telling, this makes sense, but it fell a little short here as this song plods along towards the final track.
“Dead Ends”, closes the album, with a baseline to remember in the bridge and some excellent drumming throughout. As a technical piece of rock, this is pretty good. Although its not the climax perhaps to the story I felt we were building towards, theres plenty to like.
Winchester are a band of many sounds, most of which they pull off and as an album this has some real highlights albeit at times the juxtapositions between songs and styles are too great. I feel that as Winchester grow, they may find a more consistent sound and focus, but this is a good platform to build from going forward.
Recommended Track: Diamond