Reviewed by Allan Jones
Label: Amazing Record Co
Release Date: March 4 2016
I grew up during the peak of the rave scene – listening to heavy metal and classic rock at home, and being dragged out by my raver mates to dockland warehouse raves, or some abandoned field where a bloke with a white van full of speakers would belt out tunes until the party was inevitably raided. While rock has always been my first love when it comes to music, I recognise that I have a sentimental soft spot for psy-trance and the like that still survives to this day.
As the industrial scene grew up, we had the likes of Orgy and White Zombie and Nine Inch Nails bringing dance sensibilities to the rock scene, and this electronic influence turned out to be right up my street. In more recent years, dubstep arrived and really played the harder electronica angle up to turn this into something new – but not always something that felt musical.
With this album, The Qemists have taken dubstep back into rock musicality. What’s more, they’ve retained the best bits of both genres in the process – the danceable aggression, funky breakbeats, heavy drops and electronic leanings of dubstep and the power and force and metal musicality of rock. This stuff would be equally at home on the dancefloor as in a rock club.
It’s basically the sound of a band sticking two fingers up to genre and just playing the kind of stuff they love regardless of boundaries. There’s a bit of trace over here, some dubstep over there, crunching metal guitar work working in tandem with the sub-bass and reminding me of what it was that kept me coming back to those old rave sessions as a kid – the sheer visceral joy of letting the music flood through you.
While this genre mashup is something that both defines the sound and makes it stand out, it’s perversely also the thing that makes it a hard sell. While there’s plenty in here to love, there are bound to be elements that you won’t by the nature of being so eclectic, and those moments will drag you out of the flow. Occasionally, a track will feel like it’s repeating itself a little too much, or that it steps a little too far away from what you enjoyed about the previous one.
Highlights of the album, for me, are lead single ‘Run You’, ‘New Design’, and the utterly delightful ‘Anger’ which manages to weave in a bit of pop sensibility into the chorus without losing the hard edges. After a gap of six years between this and their previous album, they’ve stayed true to what made them popular in the first place, but also attempted to reach out to new fans as well. While some could suggest they’re not pushing boundaries or redefining the musical landscape, there’s a clear progression from their earlier albums, and they’ve produced an enjoyable, vibrant album that’s well worth a listen – especially if you still feel a little nostalgic about those old warehouse days from time to time.
8 out of 10
- Our World
- Jungle (feat. Hacktivist)
- Run You
- Anger (feat. Kenta Koie)
- New Design
- No More
- Push the Line (feat. Charlie Rhymes)
- We Are the Problem
- Let It Burn
- Warrior Sound
- No Respect (feat. Ghetts)