“Exhilarating and effervescent.” These are the words that scintillating progressive metal quintet Sertraline use to summarise their tantalisingly heavy yet catchy sound. The Stoke-on-Trent five-piece fuse raw intensity with soothing melody – in their words, “big naughty riffage” meets “groovy, heavy but hella melodic.”
The band, who share a name with an anti-depressant drug that’s made national headlines this week, first began when Dan ‘Hendo’ Henderson (bass) and Mike Hawkings (guitar) went in search of a new project from the ashes of former band Blue Origin. They put an ad out for a new singer and, in their words, “a wild Lizzie appeared.” The arrival of the incredible vocals of Lizzie Parry, in August 2014, led to the band writing and recording debut EP Bury The Ghosts pretty much immediately, before completing the current line-up with Tom Wilson (guitar) and Si (drums).
Second EP Guilty followed a couple of years later, and now they’ve just released their first music in two years with the superb new single Relapse. And it’s been well worth the two-year wait.
It opens up with terrifying screams of “Shake me up, Push doubt away, Discover my strength, Find a reason why” from Lizzie over building guitars that burst into a big wall of guitar noise. Eerie synth sounds jut over lighter vocals then it dives into faster, more intense vocals and ends on a delicious big cry from Lizzie. That feeds into a big catchy chorus of “Slave to myself I failed all my expectations, Broken in pieces when I give into temptation” over booming low-tuned guitars.
More savage vocals pick up in a more intense second verse, then feeds into the huge chorus once more. Light guitars provide a pause for breath then Lizzie’s vocals return and gradually build up to a few repeats of the chorus.
It’s an absolute monster of a track that gives us plenty of reason to be excited about what’s coming our way from Sertraline. As Tom tells us: “It’s a beautiful musical worm that burrows into your brain and won’t give you peace until you listen to it again. It’s the next step in our band’s progression and we’re all horrifically excited.” Check it out in the video here and the stream below.
Their intriguing metal sound is built around influences like progressive and technical bands like Periphery and Tesserac as well as the likes of Jinjer and Architects. As Si explains: “Periphery and Architects are a huge musical influence at the moment. They manage to combine sheer aggressiveness with a really catchy, melodic style, which is one of the traits we strive for in our music. In terms of rhythm, I’m listening to all the SikTh albums on repeat again. Dan Foord has a really unique style that I am enjoying trying to emulate.”
That approach is perfected by the title track of their most recent EP, Guilty. It opens up with a disgustingly good low-tuned diving riff that’s soon joined by a high-pitched lick then drops into an edgy verse led by Lizzie’s vocals. A big singalong chorus is supported by huge rolling drums then screamed vocals drop into the return of the diving riff. Give it a listen below:
And, check out the recording of the track – including Hendo smashing back a Corona at 11.30am – in the video below:
The diversity of the band comes across in the EP’s closing track I Admit The Blame, which opens with Lizzie’s engaging high-pitched vocals, builds up to booming low-tuned riffs then light vocals gradually build up to a big rocky ending. Check it out in the video below:
While in terms of what inspires them to write music, Lizzie tells us: “Lyrically, I try not to get caught up in the cliche topic of heartbreak – lots of our previous songs were written with that in mind though! I like writing about everyday life and everyday people. Also searching areas of my own self and making sense of them!”
You can see Sertraline for yourself as they head out on tour with Skarlett Riot and Fahran this week, kicking off in Edinburgh tomorrow (21 March) then taking in Newcastle, Manchester, Stoke and London on consecutive nights. And there’s no rest for the wicked as they immediately support The Raven Age in Leeds next Tuesday (26 March). More info on all their gigs is here.
As Mike says, there’s plenty of reason to head down and see them live: “Come and see us on tour this month, we’ll be squashing a lot of energy into a half hour set, so you’ll find out everything you need to know!”