Chapter and Verse
The Wolves Back Home
The Wolves Back Home can be purchased here:
The New Breed– 9.5
Shelf Life– 9.5
Electric Tongues– 9.5
Tunnels; Electric Tongues; Slave
13th July 2016
AS dependable as turmoil and unease is in the modern world…
so too is the rise of a great London band. I will dip into the London band market- something I have done a lot- and look at Post-Hardcore bands and the day-to-day experiences of being in a band. Every publication and journalist have their tips and recommendations for bands this year. The Amazons, Baby Strange, and Estrons, between them, Punk/Rock vibes; Pretty Vicious are young upstarts that are worth your attention. Extend it outwards and The Bohicas and The Carnabys employ enough soul-searching and ‘60s-sounding Post-Punk magic to seduce critics. It is quite subjective when you think about it. There are so many great bands in London; it is hard taking it all in. Depending on your tastes and preferences, you are pretty much covered. I tend to find too many bands are proffered without just cause and rationale. Critics are too keen to promote bands who have a vague spark about them: it leads me to wonder what their criteria are and how low their expectations are. There are some journalists that have their ear to the ground and seek out the most original and striking groups. Bands like Pumarosa are at the higher end of the spectrum. The five-piece fuses spacey, psychedelic and Dance music strands together into a heady and feet-buckling cocktail. The future looks bright for them; a great band that has a very unique and special sound. London has so many corners, avenues, and neighbourhoods. Even if you spent your life in East London, you would be spoiled for bands and wonderful music. Big cities have that creative vibe and cosmopolitan blend. London, especially, is a great place to make music and absorb creativity. Whilst the capital is strangulating slightly; getting too packed and expensive: it is not putting everyone off. In spite of the expense, compaction, and rush: it is the natural place for those who want to create stunning music.
Chapter and Verse hail from East London and are clearly finding a lot of motivation and inspiration from the area. It is, to my mind, the best part of the capital for new music. The quartet has burst onto the scene and is one of the most explosive and hungry bands you’ll hear this year. Before I continue my point- and raise a couple more- it is worth meeting Chapter and Verse:
Josh Carter: Lead Vocals
Darren Gosling: Guitar
Jonny Hopwood: Bass/Backing Vocals
Ash Morton: Drums/Backing Vocals
CHAPTER AND VERSE might seem like fresh faces to the scene, but with their explosive debut EP ‘The Wolves Back Home’ these East London boys are hitting the UK like they’re veterans. With a raw, energetic twist on the alt-rock genre, Chapter and Verse released their debut single ‘Shelf Life’ in March 2016 and sold out their first ever show in less than a few weeks. Now with a relentless tour ethic, the quartet are quickly becoming one of the bands to watch this year.
Formed in early 2015, the four boys came together with an immensely diverse taste but a unified vision of creating honest, passionate and hard-hitting tunes. The result is a cocktail of noisy alt-rock that has been likened to the sound of Circa Survive, Crooks UK and Saosin.
‘The Wolves Back Home’ will be self released by the band through all usual outlets and supported with an extensive touring schedule – all handled by the band themselves.
It would be nice to see the boys get a label deal and find someone who can help handle their affairs. I have affection for groups that have a D.I.Y., autonomous approach to their music. So many modern acts (mainstream mainly) have legions of producers, agents and support crew handling everything they do. At times, you wonder whether said band have any control or say in their careers at all. One of the great things about a take-everything-on tactic is you get to make music you want to make; tour where you want and plan your diary. There is a flip-side that means things can get overwhelming and too hectic. Most fledgling bands have to cope with everything themselves until they gain a reputation and catch the ear of management. Chapter and Verse and expertly handling their music at the moment but one suspect they would benefit from a few pairs of hands. The boys are so busy right now; a bit of pressure release would give them breathing space and a chance for relaxation. That something to ponder, but for now, it is worth investigating the Post-Hardcore bands in the U.K. Scanning the mainstream/established scene and everyone from A Day to Remember and Alexisonfire are making a mark. Add Pierce the Veil and La Dispute and you have a variation there. Post-Hardcore is becoming very popular right now.
Not that it has suddenly exploded and come from nowhere. Maybe a reaction to world affairs or a frustration at modern music: the genre is attracting a lot of bands. Orlando’s Sleeping with Sirens; Kentucky’s Emarosa and our very own Oceans Eat Alaska are among the finest of the breed. Punk is always going to be a popular genre and new bands are finding fresh ways of reinterpreting its grit, passion, and raw edges. I feel there is a rallying against the stilted, committee-led Pop stars and beyond-dull raft of Folk artists around. Of course, there are plenty of great acts in these types of music: my general feeling is (Hardcore/Post-Hardcore bands) are tiring of colourless, soft music: keen to inject vitality, atmospheric and drama into the boiling pot. Many will have cliché views of Post-Hardcore: a lot of screaming and noise with no real nuance or composure. Since the ‘80s- when the genre started to take a hold- it has been growing and expanding. The San Diego scene rose in the early-to-mid-1990s and led to a Post-Hardcore movement under the Gravity Records label. Since then, the genre has incorporated more sub-genres and become more detailed and wide-ranging. Not just taking Punk/Grunge as its basis; modern-day examples lace Power-Pop, Sludge-Metal and Krautrock to unleash something cross-pollinating and beautiful. The Frankenstein’s monster approach to music-making is not as reckless and undisciplined as it seems on paper. Current Post-Hardcore bands not only want to appeal to a wide range of listeners; they are pushing boundaries and ensuring their music is as deep and varied as possible. Even if you are not a fan of ‘traditional’ Post-Hardcore; Chapter and Verse are guys that make it accessible and tangible; they do not blow you away with force and alienate.
The E.P. The Wolves Back Home announces them as a huge proposition and a band to clutch to the chest. I know the chaps have a busy and itinerant next few months ahead of them. So far, the gang has taken in Rebellion (Manchester) and Mother’s Ruin in Bristol. To launch their E.P. they rocked The Old Blue Last in London. Yesterday they were up in Glasgow ensuring Nice ‘N’ Sleazy was appropriately sweaty, dirty and aghast. After travelling hundreds of miles in the last few days- from London to Doncaster to Glasgow- the four-piece will want a second to decompress and recharge. Many underestimate the rigmarole and strains of music today. It is not as idealistic and simple as you would conceive. As Chapter and Verses have shown; there is a lot of graft and grind required. They love performing to the people but the toll it takes and the work they have to put it- it is enough to take it out of the best of us. I have seen so many great bands burn out and crumble under the pressure that is put before them. When it comes to Chapter and Verse; you know they will straddle the reality checks and tiring days. Not only does their music ensure they have a solid and loyal fanbase: their attitude, determination, and discipline means they will remain and grow. Touring duties are done for a little bit; they will be heading back from Glasgow and assessing their future. The reception and love The Wolves Back Home has garnered mean they will not have a lot of time to rest.
The New Breed kicks things off with a rude awakening. The song brings oceanic and water-themed metaphor to the surface. Prophesising sailors and guardians of the ocean are trying to lead our heroes astray. “Waves won’t collapse” it is said if you follow the light; instead of what’s in your head. A sinewy, dark figure waves you (the hero) from the harbor with a “warm smile”; turning his back and asking us to mourn for “your lost soul”. Following a rictus and riot of strings and beats; a heavy, wave-crashing slam that gets the head spinning- the band keep is calm and fascinating in the early stages. The song’s lyrics are a lot deeper and more intelligent than the majority of acts out there. Story-like and scenic; literary and mythical: each listener has their own visions and interpretation of events. “You’re not the one we need” is chanted with intensity and anger; turning against preachers, false idols and lying voices; the fascination levels reach the ceiling. Maybe rebelling against impure friends and those that lie- there are so many options for interpretation and truth. A great band that delivers urgency and obliqueness; one cannot help but draw conclusions and paint their own story. Words of madness and stupidity are swirling; we have to (as the chorus documents) have faith “in the new breed”. Maybe musicians of the latest generation are being attested. Stop proclaiming and heralding those who are fake, shallow and sort-lasting. Perhaps critics and labels pay too much attention to those underserving. Whatever the real truth behind the song; its teeth-baring drive and slamming chorus cannot be ignored. Guitars spiral and dive; the percussion and smashes through boulders; the bass guides and brings the layers together. Our hero’s voice is strong and intense to the last; passionate and forceful. Disbelievers said the storm “could never bring you home”; vessels struggle and vivid imagery is unfolded. Kudos must be given to the band performance which is tight and magnetic to the end. A dramatic and bold opening number that perfectly introduces the band to us.
After that riot of scenery and impassioned delivery comes Tunnels. Grungy, low-down guitar slam fades up into a head-banging riff for the masses. Electrifying and rollercoaster right away: every listener will be immersed and drawn into the song. Our hero feels it is hard not to look back and to better times perhaps. Claiming there is “nothing to show” from current endeavours; there is a light in the tunnel and a hope. A song that looks at insecurity and a sense of anxiety: there is, as the song says, a comfort knowing others feel “lost in their own skin”. From the oblique and novel-like intrigue of the opener: here is something more emotional, personal and direct. Crisp and clear production means the vocals are decipherable and intelligible; ensuring the lyrics register and everyone can appreciate them. The “soothing rush of comfort” that comes with the realisation (we are not alone) seems like a mantra Chapter and Verse live by. We all feel alone and unsure at the best of times. Knowing others feel the same can be a comfort and compensation. “We’re no longer alone in our own homes” is a line that could have a variety of meanings. Perhaps being under surveillance and control; feeling suffocated in the mass of people; not having time to ourselves.
It was a sentiment that stood out to me and seems to define the song. Modern life and its insecurities mean few of us feel completely relaxed, safe and secure. Given recent political and world events: Tunnels is a song that sums up general consensuses but provides a suggestion of unity and fight-against-the-oppressors. Not just reserved to lyrical intelligence and passionate vocals: when the instruments stand alone; you see another side to the band. Beats tease and slam; the guitars are vibrant and louche; the bass swells and bounces- a perfect punctuation and parable that ties the song’s chapters together. Sceptics and critics poke at the hero; there is that sense of repression and exhaustion throughout the track. One eye “on the backdoor” adds more nerves and unsettled drama to the song. The lead runs on empty for miles and is buried under the weight of things: a chorus that gets in the head and can get the crowds united in song. The words tumble and the song gets hotter and harder: the vocal more animalistic and angered as everything starts to sink in. It is perhaps worse getting what you want sometimes as the hero explains. By the end, you sit back and try and take it all in. Such is the primal urge and anger of the song; the mixture of emotions and feelings. Another stunning song that shows just how accomplished the band is.
Shelf Life is the middle child that is not awkward or second-nature in any sense. The lead is in a cold sweat and has a burden on his shoulders. A selfish heroine is making the same digs and digging a grave for the hero. Perhaps a relationship that has restarted and ended: two people who have a history and unable to break a pattern. Promising never to do this again; our boy is being cheated and punished once more. Like The New Breed: here, we get a song that could have several meanings and comes equipped with provocative possibilities. On the face of things, you assume a relationship is being focused upon. Never using clichés and obvious lines: the band is masters when it comes to story and original sentiments. Selling out his friends for lifetimes; his hands are sore and his head is aching. Not a child anymore; these ideas and lines start to reveal more of the truth. Perhaps an immature and dangerous love is being documented. A relationship that is inherently damaged and deceitful; our front-man is betraying friends and focusing on the wrong people. Backed by his brothers-in-arms; the composition swells and strikes with appropriate fever and focus. Ensuring the E.P.’s momentum and consistency remains sharp and intact; Shelf Life is a song that has radio-play potential. I have mooted the possibility of Post-Hardcore transcending beyond cobweb-strewn cells into the mainstream’s regard. Shelf Life is a track that is accessible to the masses but pleasing to the archetypes of the genre- bona fide fans who appreciate the heritage, edginess, and cool-ness of the music.
The best acts are those who can make music that has mass appeal but never feels sold-out, watered-down or untrue to their ethos. “I thought this was going to be everything” the hero screams- as though he is directing it at his girl. The E.P.’s cover features a blurry-faced hero doing up his shirt whilst his wolf-headed girl points a gun to the back of his head. You feel Shelf Life is the sonic apparition and representation of the cover art. Perhaps the defining chapter from Chapter and Verse: mistakes have been made and incongruous bonds formed; mistakes and lamentable decisions that are breaking our man in two. A sorry state of affairs has unraveled and a relationship (that seemed long-lasting on paper) has dissipated and crumbled. Again, the instrumentation adds contour and flavor to the song. The bass stands out with its grumble and rumble. In fact, the entire band is on top form and gives the song a tight-knit sound. Selling out his heart “with punchlines”; our man flees west and packs his cases. After the ruins of the night before have been stepped over: the recrimination and accusations come through sharply. The girl has been a lifeline that was once an anchor; now she is a Siren that has caused irrevocable damage. Unable to put emotions onto paper: the composition goes a long way to defining the pain and confusion. If the hero seems expendable and lost; there are signs he can rebuild and find clarity again. As the song wraps up; I wonder whether it is strictly relationships being looked at or the nature of friendships. Clearly, deceit and mistrust are being looked at but one wonders how far that extends. Another song that gets the brain working; you need a few listens to understand the truths being laid out. Benefiting the body, soul, and blood: Shelf Life is another jewel from a shining crown.
Electric Tongues is the penultimate gambit and opens rather unexpectedly. Soft and romantic pianos greet the song and beckon a soothing and tender vocal. Keeping his hands by his side and remaining steady; it seems like a particular girl is being sung about. Walling to cherish her (if only for the night) you can feel that sense of longing and affection. On that note, the combination of guitar strings- which grow headier through the opening maneuver- let you know something harder and heavier is waiting around the corner. The percussion rolls and dives; the piano continues to seduce whilst the guitar threads a tapestry and gives the song fluidity and movement. Together, the band creates something huge by being sparse and minimalist. Well-chosen, intelligent compositional notes give Electric Tongues a grandeur and sense of occasion without resorting to ecstatic vocals and primeval performance. “You’re better than I” and “I can’t dance” are sentiments that put my thoughts back in relationship arenas. Previous tracks across the E.P. have been blame-shifting and self-assessing; acid and vitriol have been common ghosts. Here, we have something more refined, uplifting and affirmative. Our hero wants to spend the night with the girl; embrace the moment and not ruin his chance. There are no rose-tinted glasses; just a man who is laying his heart on the line. Chapter and Verse show they can be sensitive and open without seeming out of their depth.
The Wolves Back Home benefits from this richness and variety: Electric Tongues is one of the most vital cuts on the record. Past the half-way mark, when ideas of recklessness and youthful abandon are suggested, the song tightens and becomes more inflamed- perhaps in tandem with the heated sexuality and bedroom eyes the song is laying out there. The band steps out and deliver an aural assault on the senses. Combining like a decades-old band that has conquered the world: that confidence and instinct makes the song sound enthralling and spectacular. When our hero comes back to the microphone, there are some regrets and doubts. His bleary eyes are clearing; he tries not to wake the sleeping girl. Perhaps too forward or ill-advised in his conquest: the morning after is a severe hangover. Given the song’s title; I was thinking about social media flirtation and how we create false expectations/relationships on Facebook, for instance. Chapter and Verse are wonderful when it comes to second-guessing and subverting expectations. Electric tongues are “just for the ride”- a myriad of images and possibilities come to fruition- and there are deep-seated regrets for sure- the girl should never have been by his side. Starting as a romantic and hopeful song has twisted into something rotten and devilled.
Ending proceedings is Slave. Sparing no expense when it comes to setting the mood: the song gets underway instantly; keen to deliver its messages. Our hero proclaims: “You don’t know me at all”. Maybe directed at an ally or friend; an acquaintance who thinks he has him sussed. Salt is being tossed in the wounds and a lot of pain comes out. Making sure The Wolves Back Home ends with a bang: Slave is the most intense, concentrated and memorable track from the collection. The chorus, in particular, is quite vivid and quotable. “Slave/You got what you came for” gets the imagination working overtime. The lead urges him/her to think slowly: this might be the last chance they get. Oblique but endlessly fascinating; what do those lyrics refer to? It is a tough one but a conundrum one is willing to challenge. It is in this song where all the band’s merits and components are galvanised. The composition is the most compelling of the E.P. Sounding like a Bond theme; it has espionage danger and an anthemic quality to it. Perhaps Chapter and Verse would be available to score the next Bond film? The guitars are at the most viper-like and biting; the percussion boulder-like and meaty; the bass precise and melodic. The lead’s vocal is at its most passionate and nuanced here. His words talk of endurance and evolution: a need to move on and grow perhaps? Each new revelation pushes the story on but causes me to question my motives and interpretation. Slave’s anatomy brings respite, river-side contemplation and watery graves together. A dark and unsettled song that finds the hero wrestling with consciousness and his conscience- he is betraying the ones he loves, it seems. The band have been storing up some special fireworks are ready to release them. That compositional quality keeps glistening. Basslines remind me of Rage Against the Machine’s eponymous debut, and for that matter, does the song itself. The lead speaks candidly and directs his words to the subject. They do not know him and are playing him for the fool. Again, one wonders whether a sweetheart or friend (former maybe) is causing this upset and anger.
Mixing Post-Hardcore bands with R.A.T.M. and Muse (to an extent) and you have a song that signs the E.P. off with aplomb. Another track that could get the crowds heaving and voices shouting clear. It never rushes or seems too eager to please. The composition takes care to work its magic; lacing in emotions, shades and ideas while the vocal is restrained for the most part. Even when our hero is casting aspersions; there is never histrionics or any wild-limbed tantrum- just a controlled man keeping his emotions in-check. That said, there is a natural explosion point that sees everything become a little too much. Hoping he can stay sane; all that tension is released and the song kicks up another gear. The chorus proclaims this is the last chance to evolve; the slaves got what they came for. I keep wondering what that alludes to and the true origins of those thoughts. The gift and wonder of Chapter and Verse is they leave absolute clarity to their own pens; each listener is free to take the song’s lyrics where they may. Compositions and vocals and more direct and obvious but always imbued with complexity and originality. I have mentioned Rage Against the Machine who are synonymous with their intelligence, innovation and kinetic bond. Chapter and Verse seem like a British, Post-Hardcore equivalent: perfectly explained and realised on Slave.
I have looked at the rise of Post-Hardcore and how conducive London is to creative inspiration. These twin charges will continue unabated. Our capital is leading the race with regards innovative and exceptional music. Other cities (Manchester especially) are always going to be crucial but London is going from strength to strength. As the city becomes more cosmopolitan, variegated and busy; it is having a positive effect on musician. Vibing from the mixture of faces, races and places: the new wave of artists is hardly struggling for inspiration. When it comes to subject matter, if you are based in boring towns and villages, you are a bit stifled and stuck. Big, busy cities have plenty of life and action; it spikes the imagination and is just what a musician needs. On that thought, venues and opportunities to perform are wide ranging and vast. Fellow bands/artists help to promote their city-mates and these aspects together has scene London’s music is among the world’s finest. I have over-simplified it but perhaps it needs no further explanation and insight. I love the best Rock/Indie and Alternative bands out there but often feel like there is something missing. Maybe not as bold, adventurous and memorable as they could be- the spirit yearns for something a little different and more explosive. Step up Chapter and Verse who come ready with a suitcase-load of fireworks, dynamite and fire. If you are nervous approaching the shores of Post-Hardcore then have no fear. The London clan is not people who want to appeal to their cliché and followers- exclude others and be seen as a niche act. Splicing a variety of genres into their Post-Hardcore base: a stadium-sized band that are capable of becoming mainstream artists of the future. It is lamentable certain genres have not gained full recognition and have to struggle beneath the surface. Chapter and Verse’s The Wolves Back Home is a professional and immediate E.P. that hits you upon first listen. Across the five tracks, you are enthralled, compelled and overcome by the power, quality and performances from the London band. Few acts have registered as hard to me as Chapter and Verse. It does not matter if you’re a Post-Hardcore fan; Chapter and Verse are a band for the people. Their touring log has been full and it will get fuller as time goes on. It may be the debut E.P. but The Wolves Back Home sounds like a creation from an established, long-standing band. There aren’t many that can release an E.P. that appeals to every sense and part of the body. Unusually, you see weak links and lesser numbers. When it comes to ticking all the boxes and touching every listener; Chapter and Verse…
DO that perfectly.
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