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There are two things that I’m certain of in this world when it comes to music. Firstly, any band name that’s multiple words crammed into just one title is a sure sign of something unique – or at the very least, something solid. From the post-rock landscapes conjured up by sleepmakeswaves to the slam poetry hardcore-folk tales of Mewithoutyou, you have to be different with the multiple words in the title, right? Anyway, such is the case with Newcastle electro-metal quartet, SETMEONFIRE, wonderfully fusing metalcore with space rock and elements of EDM and trap sprinkled over the top on ‘Signs Of Life‘; ticking the box for a heavy band that’s not merely recycling the same old shit for the umpteenth time. Their sound is what brings me to my second point, being that techno and metal were always meant to mix, and it’s simply outdated and ignorant to say otherwise.
In a debate that has maddeningly been raging for the better part of three decades now, it’s hard to sympathise with the “trve” metal warriors who caw loudly that anything produced on a computer should be kept away from the leather. Yet when the rhythmical intensity of ‘Reentry‘ kicks in, mixing furious scrubbing with beatdown guitars to wonderful effect, their argument seems incredibly hollow and shakey. The same can be said for the eerily dynamic ‘Ghosts‘, dropping out of an airy introduction into a wonderful 8-bit groove that fuses glitch, R&B and 8-bit sounds in one hell of an interesting texture.
Not only does the genre variety on ‘Signs Of Life‘ provide some much-needed extra fresh air to heavy music (in a year that has seen many of its conventions pushed further than ever before), it also means that each change in style and pace is highlighted to maximum effect on the individual songs. Every guitar entry has to be felt and must mean something, whether it be the shift between twinkling leads to bluesy riffage on ‘Signs Of Life’ or the dub-infused assault of ‘Surrender To The Spiral‘. Instrumentally, nothing feels out of place on this EP but rather, it all adds its own welcome contribution; a crucial achievement on a compacted EP.
Truthfully, the main aspect holding ‘Signs Of Life‘ back from being a truly quality release is the lyrical content and vocal delivery. There are some bold moments here, particularly with the nod toward hip-hop on ‘Surrender To The Spiral’ but opening the release with the proclamation that “The wait is over, the time is now, I’m about to lay it all down“, before going on to present a romanticised ‘hit the ground running’ motivational rhapsody detracts from the non-cliché, youthful yet abstract musical soundscape that surrounds the band’s lyrics. Likewise, the intense finale of ‘Light Circles’ lacks the same energy and conviction in frontman Cameron Eyre’s vocal delivery that is heard throughout the rest of the EP, where pitch-wise, he only moves slightly and often ends up reverting back to the same old ‘slide to the next note’ trick to the point of predictability.
However, those things don’t (and shouldn’t) detract from what is an overall solid collection of songs, songs that will form the foundations of a truly unique and exciting sound down the line. All things can improve over time, and with the commitment that these Newcastle boys have to their craft, as evidenced by the quality of the body of ‘Signs Of Life‘, things are only going up from here for yet another band from Newwy making waves.
SETMEONFIRE have carved out a unique electro-metal sound on their ‘Signs Of Life’ EP, and it would be a real shame should they play things safe and revert back to the safety of the formulaic metalcore roots that they so often tease. With such a broad spectrum of noise and sounds to play with on EP #2, the world of the weird and wonderful is at the feet of this group, and their early experiments are returning some positive results.
2. Signs Of Life
5. Surrender To The Spiral
6. Light Circles
‘Signs Of Life’ is out now. Stream/buy it here.