One good thing about the huge amount of spare time we suddenly have on our hands is the opportunity to get really stuck into some of the amazing new bands we discover. And in fascinating Dutch alternative rock/metal band AtFirst we’ve found one that demands huge amounts of your time.
The Breda band delight us with the amount of delicious metal riffs that support the engaging vocals of frontwoman Jamie Jochems and throw in a good deal of progressive elements alongside plenty of super-heavy moments.
The band kindly sent us Change, the eleven-minute-long epic closing track to their debut album Deadline, which was released at the end of January. This intriguing song follows the story of a scientist who wants to make the Earth a better place, which you can read more on in our interview with Jamie below. And it might well be one of the best songs we’ve heard in a long time.
It opens up with electronic noise that’s joined by flittering synth sounds then electronic drums. A little bass drop gives way to Jamie’s engaging vocals with a little bubbling guitar riff, before delicious heavier driving guitars take over. An awesome darting riff jumps in as Jamie’s vocals intensify, which return again after a slightly more mellow verse.
There’s a brief pause, then chugging guitars support Jamie’s spoken vocals alongside piercing synth sounds. Then the big bouncy riff jumps in once more, alongside a cool section of call and answer vocals, which end on a beeping sound and intense chugging guitars and a cry of “Save myself.”
A big long beeping sound suggests it’s all over, but in truth it’s not even reached the halfway point. Lighter guitars take over alongside a cool little solo under a long section of spoken vocals, which suddenly explode into more intense vocals and heavier guitars.
A huge drum roll gives way to chugging guitars and huge cries from Jamie, then more intense spoken vocals over booming guitar chords. Powerful high-pitched vocals take over as the booming guitars continue, with more intense drums building the atmosphere. A twinkling little guitar lick jumps in over the top to bring an impressive track to a huge ending.
For a taster of the heavier side of the band we also took a listen to For What It’s Worth, which also comes from the new album. It opens up with a violin led intro, then suddenly bursts into a huge darting guitar riff and pounding drums. Almost spoken vocals jump in alongside little guitar flurries, then awesome low-tuned guitar dives and builds up to a huge chorus, which ends on a blast of heavy guitars and drums. Give it a listen below:
There’s plenty more of this epic progressive metal on their debut album Deadline so we highly recommend going to give it a listen. And, while you do, have a read of our interview with Jamie below….
GR: Who are At First? And where are you from? What’s the backstory, how did you get together?
JJ: “We are five individuals from the Netherlands with a passion for pushing our own limits and the limits of alternative rock and metal. Our musical journey began in 2015 in our local music center. In the meantime, we’ve played our favourite festivals, won several band contests and shared the stage with bands like Bring Me The Horizon, Textures and Dool. To be honest, I think starting this band was the best decision of my life. We love to make music and memories together.”
GR: You just released Change. What should people be expecting from the song? What inspired you to write it?
JJ: “Change is a 10-minute progressive rollercoaster of emotions, with alternating grooves, dynamic guitar work, electronic sounds and expressive vocals.
“It’s a story about a scientist who wants to make planet Earth a better place. At night, the scientist receives a vision in a dream with a solution to end war, pain and pollution in the world. When the scientist wakes up, the vision is gone, but the feeling of peace and bliss stays. The scientist desperately tries to recreate the vision to remember the solution, but fails…
“But I don’t want to spoil the whole story, so it’s probably better to listen to it yourself! For this song we were influenced by progressive bands like Periphery, Textures and Alter Bridge. We wanted to challenge ourselves and we have experimented a lot with the song. The lyrics were written in a time that I found it difficult to sit still and do nothing while there is so much suffering in the world. Change reflects that feeling of desperation.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
JJ: “Alternative metal with a grunge attitude, but modern sound.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
JJ: “I think a lot of our songs are really personal, but I always like to see them in a holistic context, because I think a lot of people could relate to these experiences. We also have songs about social themes like mental health, economy and the environment. We like to create more awareness around these topics.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
JJ: “Northlane, Jinjer, System of a Down, Halestorm and Rage Against The Machine.”
What have you got coming up in 2020?
JJ: “Next month we will release a new video clip and we just started writing new material for our second album. This summer and fall we will be touring in the Netherlands and release some new singles.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
JJ: “We have just released our debut album called Deadline. Please listen to our album on your favourite streaming service if you want to discover and support new music!”