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Monday, January 27, 2014

Album Review: Servers – Leave With Us

In an age when an embattled music industry has sucked up hit after hit, record labels and their artists have found solace in the art of advertising. A brash band t-shirt, a solid tour slot, an enticing line of blurb, one fanatical album review in the right place and a strong social media presence. Any of these things can be the making or breaking of a band these days. With that in mind, you’d honestly believe that the UK trio Servers were rank amateurs. An instantly-forgettable and distinctly internet-unfriendly moniker, a face-concealing “promotional” snap and music video and a few lines of biographical waffle about cults – that’s pretty much it. It’s certainly a back-door approach to self-promotion.


Take a closer look though, because lurking back there in the shadows is an absolute behemoth spouting musical ear-worms that boast grit, melody and muscle. Some groups may mesh a couple of genres together to create something fresh and dynamic – Servers are an octopic rock band with a groping arm in every pie. They are the very definition of the band you simply cannot pigeonhole. Song by song, their chameleonic music takes in grunge, dark rock, screamo, sludge, cult metal, new wave, industrial and punk n’ roll – there are even a few 70s prog touches here and there.

The keystone here is vocalist/guitarist and former GU Medicine frontman Lee Storrar. His “all is lost” melancholics and soaring Jaz Coleman-esque (Killing Joke) throat-ripping wails lock themselves seamlessly onto his portly chugs and wild riffs, but there is solid support from Ant Nettleship’s pounding drums and Lee Wilde’s fizzing bass. This here is a debut album loaded with viperous intent, an intoxicating dark quality and shedloads of melodramatic attack.

Opening with bleak menace, ‘Save Me From Myself‘ is two-parts Cancer Bats and one-part Five Finger Death Punch. It burns with an intense heat and Storrar’s hoarse yelping rises to a scream with the crecendoing chorus whilst the pistoning rhythm rumbles beneath like a detached and hopelessly lost soul. ‘Universes & Supernovas‘ and ‘Run With The Foxes‘ are their two epic firecrackers with vast riffs that will suck you in. Both Foo Fighters-esque in construction and tone, they feature big, sparkly choruses that will aggressively weld themselves to your brain. Wedged between them the intensely gothic, Icicle Works-friendly comedown of ‘Claustrophobia‘ is utterly thrilling and it’s tonal brother, the dark, sultry creature that is ‘King Things‘, is a pulsating beauty with a powerful “breathe in, breathe out” suckerpunch.

Mega High‘ ups the ante as Lee Wilde’s fat bass strings combine with Storrar’s buzzing, sludge-flinging guitar to take them powering into Orange Goblin and Fu Manchu territory. This gives licence for the vocal to dial up the snarl and caterwauling as the shit-kicking rock licks come out to play. The joy of the stomp is used to great effect for the raging bluster of the QOTSA-esque ‘Do Gooders‘. Here, their bleak cult ethos that they seem to thrive on adds another more sinister tone to their appeal.

Layered deep enough to give it a potent attack, the strong production also slaps on a slick finish and yet it’s been handled lightly enough to give it real character. Listen closely enough and beneath the power and precision, there is still the odd pop and crackle that bursts forth. No matter which track you shuffle to, there is a resplendent joy prevalent in the construction and an undeniable swagger in the delivery. Here is an album that you sense is alive and breathing. It’s dark purpose may be there in the background but, thankfully, it has not been consumed by it. Rather it stands silently within the crowd, yet with arms open, ready to wrap you in its warm, loving embrace.

When the songwriting is of this kind of quality, there really is no need to go through the standard ritual of self-promotion. If the South Yorkshire trio continue along this path, focusing solely on the creation of the music alone, the rest will simply take care of itself. As their final track clearly points out with its (rather tacked on) spooky soundbite from the “Heaven’s Gate Cult Recruitment Tape” – “The only chance you have to survive is to leave with us”. One listen to this album and you will surely want to follow Servers to the ends of the Earth.

Also online @ Heavy Blog Is Heavy = http://www.heavyblogisheavy.com/2014/01/24/servers-leave-with-us/
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