Five misfits. One goal. To remind the world the true meaning of rock and roll.
They’ve got the leather. They’ve got attitude. But most importantly they heart and determination to take it the whole way.
|Left to Right: JC Charles; Ray Miller;
Bret Von Dehl; Alex Foxx; Brandon
Now The Relapse Symphony are no strangers to Rebel Yell, instead we have been following their journey since day one. After being together for little over two years now the band have released their debut album “Shadows”, following their 2012 EP “Times Running Out”. However, before today’s release the band tormented their fans with the gradual sharing of four singles taken directly off the album: We Are the Broken; One More Yesterday; Savage Eyes and Forever Slowly. I can safely inform you that these chosen few did not satisfy fans in a calming sense; it simply left them hungry for more. This teasing of the Relapse Rebels with various count downs and singles arguably prepared them for the bands supporting role in the Dead Rabbits tour (currently in the States), though on the other hand continued to wet their appetite for long awaited album.
And now here it is.
Are you ready for this?
Disclaimer: if your mind is fragile to the sheer magnitude of the awesomeness of true rock and roll approach with caution, as this album is sure to blow it to pieces (in a good way of course!).
Track One: Embrace the Darkness
“Shadows” opens with a one and a half minute instrumental that provokes anticipation for the remainder of the album to rise to chaotic degrees. Remember that tension? The escalating urgency that the countdowns brought? Well that is sufficiently reflected within this. The gradual crescendo causes the listeners’ heartbeat to rise, their breathing to become irregular and shallow. So I repeat…are you ready for what is about to erupt?
Track Two: We Are the Broken
Embrace the Darkness’ simple; elegant yet haunting melody is completely juxtaposed by the scream that begins “We Are the Broken”. Being the first single off of “Shadows” the song perhaps acts as the anthem for The Relapse Symphony, capturing an essence that unites them and their Rebels; for instance through the continuous refrain of “We Are! We Are!”. Throughout this song we see a side of JC Charles that has get to be seen whilst being introduced to the latest member Ray Miller, their astounding guitar interludes and solos maintain the heavier, punk element of the band throughout the entire album, arguable this song acts as its catalyst. Personally, my favourite part of the song is the somewhat calmer, catchy middle eight, in which Bret Von Dehl sings “Paint these hearts in starlight and smoke, we won’t back down, we are the broken” as it is an unexpected detour that works incredible well with the rock and roll attitude they emit. What’s more, it could be suggested that this particular song combines the two key aspects of the genre; not giving a damn, but also the side of which many forget – the fun of the freedom of rock.
Track Three: Battlefield of Lies
Once again, the two guitarists dominate in a subtle way, carrying the song forward and although decrescendo as Bret’s vocal enters, still manage to uphold a captivating influence without being overly obvious or distasteful. Instead this band seems to understand that all instruments are to carry their own weight rather than out rank each other. Interestingly Brandon Kile’s bass line begins restrained, however in the second verse enhances the raw edge that The Relapse Symphony seemingly strive for. Battlefield of Lies merges simply the grit of rock, the edge of punk, the hook of mild glam with the haunting ambiance emphasised by electronic in one of the most effective manners I have personally heard in a long while. Alex Foxx sets his name in stone on the drums, reassuring any doubt anyone had when announced that he was to transfer from guitar to the kit; again Foxx illustrates how every individual drum and cymbal are to be used to create an amazing blend within a song without being too domineering; and reinstating how sticking just to the snare and hi-hat isn’t always the best option.
Track Four: One More Yesterday
When hearing this single for the first time my heart stopped. The sheer emotion embedded in these lyrics is overwhelming, and have the ability to knock all breath out of their listener. Upon its release JC Charles tweeted to fans that this song was particularly personal to him; and trust me you can see why. Everyone has wished to redo a day, or just for a few more seconds, but the separation from a loved one is perhaps the most agonising, whether through literally distance or through death. The chorus lyrics “You’re not breathing, I’m not sleeping, I walk this world alone. I’ve been screaming, hands and knees and now you’ll never know. I don’t care what tomorrow hold, I’ll give this ground my broken bones, for just one more yesterday with you” reinforce a feeling of isolation, but rather an isolation caused by love rather than hate. However, this isn’t a typical ballad format, instead the band continue with their rock agenda, perhaps illustrating frustration at this loss? Yet this song speaks for itself and doesn’t particularly deserve the inefficient analysis that would degrade its true intention. Listen to it. You will see exactly what I mean. And you will fall in love with the song on first listen.
Track Five: Make Your Move
Now you cannot imagine the excitement I beheld when I heard this next song. The Relapse Symphony refuse to forget where they have come from which is something most rock stars, or any celebrity, forget along the road to fame. Make Your Move was one of the first songs ever to be released by the band back in 2012 and clearly reflects the evolution of the band. The song as been rerecorded from the edition that appears on the their EP (unless my ears are mistake!) capturing Alex on drums and Ray on guitar. Located pretty much in the middle of the album, this pop punkish track breaks the more seriously undertones of the previous; again recreating the idea that rock and roll also establishes the ‘carefree’, ‘fun’ emblem. The song embodies the past, present and future of the band; and how a band can continue to rise above their former selves, live the dream they placed high upon a pedestal, and still manage to be humble and remember who they really are.
Okay even I’ll admit that got a bit deep…even for me!
Track Six: Savage Eyes
Following Make Your Move, Savage Eyes documents an infatuation of a less innocent soul. A dark obsession with someone equally as dark. Perhaps a bittersweet romance? Or an addiction? Who knows what goes through their minds as they write? But all I know for sure is that all the energy that is radiated from that song is tremendous, you can’t help but imagine a crowd of people completely letting go during the live set of this song. Alex’s beats play strong and hard throughout the entire track, successfully reflecting the power and grit of the songs concept. Brandon’s rhythm mimicking the urgency suitably complimented by JC and Ray’s fluency keeping anticipation close to peak level.
Track Seven: Walls
Walls…Walls…Walls…this has to be one of my favourites off of “Shadows”, feeling like an appropriate merging of Relapse’s earlier sound revolving around tracks such as the original Make Your Move and Other Side of Town, and the new grittier tone of We Are the Broken and Forever Slowly. Unlike other previous Relapse Symphony tracks, Alex begins the song with a punk rock-ish fill that sets the ambiance for the rest of the song. Now I found Bret’s vocals during the verses to remind me of a young Billy Idol during his Generation X era or The Misfits’ Glenn Danzig; here he definitely demonstrations the strength of punks influence however Von Dehl’s more melodic vocal line adds his own twist. The chorus is by far the most memorable melody line, that can’t help but get lodged into your mind, whether you like it or not…but trust me you’ll like it! All three guitarists keep things simple, effectively contradicting the heavier, darker tendencies enhanced in songs such as Savage Eyes.
Track Eight: Angels Take Us Demons Save Us
Despite it’s name, Angels Take Us Demons Save Us the band again follow the entwined roads of rock ‘n’ roll and punk rock. Lyrics themselves demonstrate the bands heavier influences with lines such as “the bodies hit the ground, the sky is falling down, but I am in the twilight safe with you, while guarded angels sleep, the demons are running free, but I am in the twilight safe with you, a shallow grave for two.” Followed by a humorous, sadist yet subtle laugh that gives the song that extra edge. Now I know I’ve pretty much said all these songs have been my favourite, but Angels Take Us Demons Save Us is definitely in the top three for me. The song continues on the punk rock principle, almost making it strangely adaptable for something such as a Tim Burton film, nevertheless the track takes an unexpected…yet expected (if that makes any sense!)…Turn during the last thirty seconds, its as if hell has broke loose in the bands “shallow grave” with Von Dehl screaming vocals, Foxx’s pounding beat, Kile’s authoritative bass, Charles’ and Miller’s shattering licks.
Track Nine: The Ghost That Got Away
The Ghost That Got Away continues the shadier ambiance left from Angels Take Us Demons Save Us; Foxx’s steady yet compelling blends perfectly with Charles’ and Miller’s enthralling sections. Mr. Bret Von Dehl vocals do not for one-minute abandon their mesmerising qualities, instead remain just as captivating as when the record began; though it appears in this chosen track Von Dehl returns to a more raw format, allowing his vocals to be controlled with the necessary emotion that carries their lyrics to the next level. The guitar stabs within the chorus magnify the true grit that comes with a rock and roll dedication, what’s more, combined with Von Dehl’s harsh whisper following the second chorus, The Relapse Symphony remind not only their fans, but the world of the original identity of rock. Listening to the last few seconds of the track the listener will be completely mind blown by the ability both guitarist possess…let’s be honest this whole band is stained with talent and determination beyond anything imaginable.
Track Ten: Forever Slowly
Forever Slowly…I maybe wrong here so don’t shoot me! But I would say this is the chosen ballad…or close to…of the album. Similar to Savage Eyes the song perhaps explores a darker love, through the lines “maybe you were toxic from the start, maybe I’m a sucker for danger”…maybe these boys like dangerous lifestyles with dangerous girls. As I write this I am becoming more and more aware that there aren’t actually many words to describe this song…it’s one of those track you listen to and you let it completely take over you. One of those songs that you feel coursing through your veins, synchronising your heartbeat, controlling your breathing.
So I have one thing to tell you that’s is imperative…go listen to this song, close your eyes and concentrate on nothing but the music. Then you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Track Eleven: Shadows
Now for the track that dedicates its name to the album. The track begins with a crescendo dominated by controlled feedback of a guitar; as it peaks Foxx and Kile contribute their instruments; yet it is Foxx who arguable carries this song, but as I said before each member pulls their weight effectively. JC’s licks between and within chorus and verse act as charismatic bridges throughout while Von Dehl regenerates the more haunting undertone of his melody, allowing the listener to become submerged in the lyrics. Something about this song that makes listener connect on certain levels; the backing chant so subtly used in the closing seconds add that extra insistence as the listener is left with the single note on the guitar to close the album.
All in all this album was definitely worth the wait. The boy’s debut album will ensure them a place in the spotlight next to bands such as Black Veil Brides, Escape The Fate, and possibly in the future The Misfits, Sex Pistols and the Ramones.
Seeing how this band has developed and evolved makes people see how rock and roll never died with the eighties, or how punk is not dead period. This quintet are pathing the way for future pioneers, and you know what? I absolutely love this album and this band, who continue to surprise me. Not only do I look forward to their next album, but I also am awaiting a UK tour (hint hint boys!). from what I can see they are gradually making it in the states with their tours, now it’s time to show Europe and the UK what their missing out on!
Purchase “Shadows” on their merch site: http://merchnow.com/catalogs/the-relapse-symphony
Or on itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/shadows/id875867215
Find a fault in it. I dare you.
Oh wait you can’t!
Until next time…