So, a quiet Tuesday afternoon and the new DSHS album, Empire of Light lands in my inbox for review. Considering it is Banter Bank Holiday today (given we’ve not had a bank holiday off in years we made our own) I really shouldn’t be working today. However, having been really impressed by what I’ve heard of DSHS lately I thought that I’d at least give a few tracks a listen before I headed off home to the comfort of my bed and Netflix…
Well that plan got ruined rather quickly…
It seems almost cliche and insincere to say, as I might, “right from the outset this record melts your face with blistering guitars, anthemic vocals and a crisp, immaculate mix that makes your hairs stand on end”… because that doesn’t actually do this record justice. No Remorse No Regrets kicks the album off and woke me from my sleepy Tuesday afternoon browsing Wikipedia. So much so I had to go on all of my social media outlets (I’m alone in the office) and tell everyone I knew how great this is shaping up to be. Such is my enthusiasm for this album that I still haven’t got through the first play. I’m 5 tracks in as I write so you are getting a full on LIVE review of the album as it hits my inbox. One thing that has really impressed me on this album so far is the production. Everything sits exactly where it should in the mix.
Notes so far? Track 1 literally (figuratively ) blew me away! Track 2 – I thought, I hoped, I expected would perhaps dip slightly. Instead, it gave me a second kick up the back side and kept the pace up straight through. Track 3, ok surely logic would suggest at least a slight dip here. No mortal, and especially a fresh band such as DSHS, can keep up this pace and quality… Well track 3 is VIII… Where openers No Remorse No Regrets and A New Legacy start with a short sharp punch to the abdomen followed by music so enticing and epic that you can’t help but stop everything you’re doing and listen… VIII teases you in with much lower guitars, bass and constant kick drum, building up to a mix of slow brutal breakdowns and quite punky snare driven galloping music. It takes you up and down, fast and slow… where ever DSHS want you basically.
Track 4 - It Rains Down gives you some respite from the relentless energy and pace of the first 3 tracks. We’re introduced to strings and clean guitar sounds with plenty of delay and reverb. We are also treated to some hauntingly beautiful vocals from Ed as the track builds into something more fitting the rest of the album.
I was not planning on doing a track by track review of this album but it almost became that given that each song resonated on a different level with power, passion and a skill that I’ve not seen like it in the UK for a long time.
The rest of the album does not disappoint or falter from the standard set by the opening 4 tracks. There is also a nice variation in pace and style with The Waves and the Seas following It Rains Down with more haunting vocal melodies in a Linkin Park meets Parkway Drive vibe.
The stand out tracks for me however will have to be Salvation Lies Within /Crusader - electronic drum intro with enduring synth and organ sounds developing into an unforgettable track that sets the scene for the next track Crusader sneak along before it violently explodes into your consciousness. Phenomenal guitar riffs, driving bass lines, perfect drum patterns and unforgettable vocals lines… The rise and fall of these two tracks don’t leave me speechless – they leave me in a state of vocal diarrhoea where I find myself wanting to go tell the world about how good this album is.
There will be no surprise what score I am going to give this record so let’s not beat about the bush.
Call it outstanding, intrepid, distinguished, momentous, exceptional, superior or whatever you want. The bottom line is that you won’t hear a better album this year. A masterclass. – 5/5
Go buy it now!… ok preorder then
The album is out on Small Town Records 17.09.12