There’s few things better in music than metal bands that smash out huge, hooky riffs, which is exactly what we get in abundance from this week’s New Band of the Week, Essex’s Beneath The Embers.
The quartet of lead singer and guitarist Lewy Roland, lead guitarist Clint Bredin, bassist Charlie and drummer Spence rose from the North Essex metal scene towards the end of last year, signed an independent record deal in February, and are already building a solid fan-base across the south-east and East Anglia with their infectiously groove-led heavy metal sound.
We spoke to guitarist Clint this week to get the lowdown on this exciting band, and first up asked what people should expect from them. He told us: “People could listen to us and say it sounds fresh but strangely familiar, and I think that’s probably because of the neo-classical 80s melodies, tones like Metallica produced in their early days but spun in a different way. Stone Sour are probably a good comparison where they balance what Corey does with Slipknot and what Josh Rand does as a guitarist.”
The band’s sound is drawn from a wide range of influences; Charlie is a classically trained jazz musician, Spence comes from a 80s and 90s heavy rock background, Lewy is very much influenced by the Avenged Sevenfold and Killswitch Engage-type metalcore, and Clint is a big Guns’n’Roses, Metallica, Iron Maiden advocate – which comes across in their music.
Clint expands: “What that’s created is a massive mish-mash of stuff. When we start writing it’s heavy and fast and we generally find ourselves toning it back to find a bit of a melodic balance. Thrash would be too heavy, but somewhere in the middle of thrash, metalcore and heavy rock. We always say we’ll write and play music that we enjoy listening to ourselves and if we like playing it together then it stays, but if one of us doesn’t like it then it goes or gets rewritten.”
Debut single Breaking Down The Walls gives us a delicious introduction to the band, opening up with a Metallica-like repeated riff that will have you rocking your air guitar throughout the track. The riff opens the song alone, joined by bursts of guitar chords and calls of “hey, hey, hey” then a big scream to mark a drop down into a relaxed opening verse.
The catchy riff returns for a more upbeat chorus with livelier, catchy vocals of “Breaking down the walls, destroying all the heartache” that sets the tone for the rest of the track. The second chorus is followed by a burst of repeated riffs, a cry of “Let’s break down this fucking place” that leads into a musical breakdown that and a section of big screamed vocals. The track concludes with the hooky riff returning to lead us into a final rendition of the catchy chorus.
Check it out for yourself in the video below:
The second track we’ve heard from Beneath The Embers is the brilliantly titled Drag You To The Grave, which opens up with big chunky riff that I’ve found myself singing repeatedly while walking around my flat. That’s joined by bursts of guitar and drum, repeats of “Drag you to the grave” then a big scream that leads into a big metal smash-up ld by the lead riff and driving smashing drums.
A heavy opening verse follows with awesome screamed vocals, then launching into a really catchy chorus with clean vocals “Drag you to the grave, if I’m going down you’d better be prepared, I said I’ll drag you to the grave, Embrace your faith and crown you as mine” alongside a return of the lead riff. The second chorus drops down into slowed-down high-pitched, clean vocals with a cool bass support, which concludes with a series of blood-curdling screams before returning to the opening riff. A final chorus follows with bigger high-pitched vocals and a higher-pitched version of the original riff that brings the track to an excellent ending. You can download the track for free here.
Talking about what influences their songs, Clint tells us: “I think it’s an evolving process. We’d already written one song before Lewy came along, which he then tinkered with and it kind of created a character that was then carried on to the second song. The first was quite a dark outlook on life and then evolved into Breaking Down The Rules, which is all about improving yourself. We wrote about a friend of mine that was killed in Iraq, and with Lewy you pretty much get anything – such as a ‘fuck you’ song to an ex-girlfriend.
“Lewy comes up with riff, chord progression or a set of lyrics and then that will go into the studio as an idea and we’ll old-school jam it out, find a beat that works and when the drummer’s happy we’ll stick with it. We all write our own bits.”
We also asked Clint for his thoughts on the metal scene in the UK and particularly his corner of the world in and around Essex. He said: “I think it depends which way the wind is blowing to be honest. A few weeks ago my wife asked me ‘why didn’t you do this years ago?’ and it’s like we didn’t have access to the stuff we have now, such as having jobs to be able to afford equipment. But everywhere locally has somewhere for us to be able to play, be it Colchester, Ipswich, Chelmsford, Norwich has been really supportive, Braintree – so there’s places to go, and they’re not huge or attracting the big bands but it’s a start.
“I think the metal scene in the UK has taken a massive evolution in terms of how the genre’s sit, there’s a lot of scream and technical stuff, which is great, but there’s just too much of it. It’s trying to find that balance, we meet a lot of people who are really people and it’s probably a good place to be right now and the opportunities are there – you just have to work hard to get it.”
We love the band’s classic metal sound and big infectious riffs, and there’s plenty more to come from Beneath The Embers this year. Their debut EP Ashes is out at the end of this month, they’re busy writing music this month, have a couple of gigs coming up in Norwich – including metal festival ELEGY at Epic Studios on 11 November – and some soon-to-be announced events in June and July.