I have several EPs to review, and here are the first three. These EPs are very different from one another, but all of them are promising and excellent. Check out my thoughts on Crown Lands, Ignea, and Memorist.
Crown Lands is a hot new Canadian rock duo that released their full-length debut in 2020. The duo is comprised of Kevin Comeau (guitar, bass and keys) and Cody Bowles (vocals and drums). They have a hard-rocking persona and sound, one reminiscent of bands like Led Zeppelin. This sort of tribute to the 70s tends to rear its gracious head every few years, but this duo takes it to the max, from the way they dress to the music they write to the way they perform.
This means that their music is bold and full of character. The band has a pretty powerful sound, if I do say so myself, and it can come across as unrelenting, stylish, and even a bit psychedelic at times. This new EP, White Buffalo, is no different. It has four tracks of bold, meaty, retro rock music, including lyrics that explore Canada’s ongoing and complicated relationship to the indigenous peoples of that region, and to the bloody history that continues to be uncovered (the United States is no different—we are further behind on acknowledging what our people have done to the native peoples here).
I love this EP. It runs about 27 minutes and has four great tracks. The first two sort of go together, with “Inner Light” and the title track running together. These are my favorites. The former is a 5-minute, lumbering intro with fantastic guitars and drums. The title track is a wailing, emotional, and eccentric track where Cody really shines on vocals. The last two songs are good, too, though. “The Witching Hour” transitions back and forth between gentle psychedelics and brash rock ‘n roll. The final song, “The Oracle”, is a thirteen-minute epic that actually leans more into ambience and even introspection. It is a surprising song after three rich and hefty tracks. After hearing this EP, I need to hear the debut album, for sure, and even though this sort of shtick isn’t anything new or revolutionary, it is damn entertaining.
After last year’s fantastic album The Realms of Fire and Death, Ignea is back with a mesmerizing EP called Bestia. The interesting thing about this EP, however, is that it consists of tracks by Ignea, tracks by another band called Ersedu, and then one track that features both bands. Both of these bands hail from Ukraine, so we are getting a taste of what that country has to offer us musically. I like that.
This is an excellent effort. Both bands play dark and heavy symphonic metal, but they are actually quite different. Ignea is colorful and in-your-face with powerful harsh vox, serene clean vocals, electronica, and folk working together to make something exciting. Ersedu is heavy and gritty, but also cinematic, ambient, and shadowy. They are probably the darker band of the two.
So, the first two tracks are Ignea’s. I love them both. “Bosorkun” is a symphonic, catchy opener with lots of heft. “Magura’s Last Kiss” has unrelenting verses but a peaceful chorus, and Helle Bogdanova on vocals really perfects her mix of harsh and clean singing. The last two tracks are Ersedu’s. I really like what I’m hearing from this band. “Black Garden” is a blackened, distorted, and atmospheric affair that revels in dark passages and mystery. I really like that song. The closer is “The Eaters of the Sun”, where the band dials the heaviness up to 11 with massive riffs and relentless drums. It gets my blood flowing, for sure.
The best song on the album, however, is “Mermaids”, the track that includes both bands. This will be one of my favorite songs this year. It has a winding, spiraling symphonic tone overall with plucking folk accents, haunting choirs, and a pitch-black drive that sounds so good. If you buy the album, it also comes with a 16-minute bonus track called “The Symphony of Bestia”. It is exactly what you think it is: a score for the EP with menacing, ominous classical music. I love it, and I honestly wish more bands would combine forces like this. I think Bestia is a success in that regard especially.
Memorist is a new band coming to us from the UK, releasing their debut EP Oni//Kijo soon on November 12th. They fall more into the alternative and even nu-metal style, though they sound fresher and more exciting than that to my ears. They play a brash and very heavy version of those genres, trading harsh and clean vox back and forth, with the clean vocals in particular really attracting me.
This band simply has a sense of melody that is undeniable. Even in their heaviest moments, such as on the opener “Oni”, there is a prevailing and beautiful tone to everything they do. I love the clean choruses, as they remind me of the alternative rock and metal of my teens, but I also like the groove and energy this band possesses. They hit hard, and don’t stop.
Memorist has been releasing songs for a couple years now, and I’ve shared some of them. Strangely, my favorite singles are not on this release. This EP has 5 songs on it, and they are on par with the past singles, though. I mentioned “Oni” and its relentless drive, but I would also mentioned “Slither” for being the most interesting song on the release. I like how reserved and quirky it sounds. “Second Sequence” sort of has that same quality; it is very listenable and even a little cinematic in its song structure. Overall, this a fun EP with some serious guts, and I hope their full-length debut can maintain this vigor.
Find Crown Lands online:
Find Ignea online:
Find Memorist online: