If you’re on the lookout for a band to inspire the next generation of Welsh rock then Calling Apollo could well be it. The post-hardcore act have been busy crafting the latest evolution of their engaging aggressive yet melodic sound since we first introduced you to them just over a year ago.
And the result of the hard work of Cardiff quintet Christian James Neale (vocals), Dan Hughes and Kevin Williams (guitars), Luke Walters (bass) and Zak Woolf (drums) is a bit of a masterpiece in the form of new EP The Great Depression: Act II.
It follows the success of 2016 offering Act I, on which Kevin told us: “The reception really did take us by surprise. We didn’t expect the reviews and reaction to be so good and we’re extremely grateful to everyone who listened to it and liked it. 2017 was great too. We went out on the road four times with some awesome bands such as The Decoy and Shadows into Light and we had a great reaction to our live show, which is encouraging.“
The seven-track EP kicks off with the introductory Epilogue, which ends on repeated high guitar notes that swing us into opening track Deer In The Headlines. A slow intro suddenly bursts into life with low-tuned chugs of guitar and high-pitched guitar notes, then drops into a chorus of powerful vocals supported by light guitars. It gradually builds in intensity to a big vocal-led chorus, which ends on a couple of low chords, then a more animated, frantic second verse follows. The big booming guitar chords return with distant calls of “Gotta learn to let go” that feed into big guitars supporting one final blast of the chorus.
Tiny Things, the lead single from the EP, also begins with slow, light guitars, then suddenly a big hit of guitars lead into a typically engaging vocal-led opening verse then floaty guitars lead into the chorus. The second round of these flows into more intense vocals, then a big final chorus. Check it out in the video below:
Poison The Feed portrays the heavier side of Calling Apollo. It opens with a big smash of guitar chords that drop down into a blitz of fast-paced shouted vocals, then a big booming riff acts as an interlude to the next blast of vocals. The second round of vocals is followed by a cool repeating riff with pounding drums, then the track draws to a relaxed ending that gives us a brief chance to draw breath.
That’s much needed as there’s nothing relaxed about the big rocky intro to Cambrian Implosion, which opens with fast-paced chords that continue in support of high-pitched vocals. They continue all the way through to a drop in the pace, that’s soon followed by a return of the rocky guitar chords and more intense vocals.
Penultimate track The Secrets Told On Death Row (The Great Escape) begins with a slow looping guitar lick and bassy drums that drop into a slow opening verse dominated by the powerful vocals: “I hear the sirens ringing, Check your mail, Shut the front door, We smile but we are forcing it, Carry on” then guitars and rolling drums enter as the pace picks up. The opening guitar reappears briefly then drops into another slow verse, that picks up with guitars over a repeating piano riff, supporting more powerful, engaging vocals.
A mini guitar solo and the opening guitar riff are followed by almost shouted vocals that end with repeats of “This is our great escape,” then big guitar chords and piano alongside high-pitched guitars lead into a final smash of big vocals.
The EP ends on Pale Blue Dot, which comes in at nearly 7 minutes long. It opens with a repeating guitar riff that continues through opening vocals “The distant stars fall silent, We cannot find the common ground, Communicate through science, To show the Gods that we are more than creatures of war, So we have to find that space in our minds that we can live in, But we’re hopeless copies.” The guitar riff and cymbal-led drums come in as the vocals continue and end on the same last two lines.
A big scream leads into a huge smash of rocky guitar chords and cymbals supporting screamed vocals that lead into more repeats of “So we have to find that space in our minds.” More big screamed vocals follow, then repeating chords and a drum roll issues in epic sounding chords and big high-pitched strings supporting the vocals. Repeating “woh-oh” vocals add to the huge atmosphere as this awesome closing track draws to a close.
As you can probably deduce from the album titles, Calling Apollo’s music is very much influenced by political issues. As Kevin tells us: “Act I was about how we feel reckless political attitudes in 1920s could be mirrored to the reckless political attitudes today in the UK. The strange thing is that Act I was written and recorded before Brexit so a lot of it came true. Regardless of what side you’re on, I think it can be agreed that no one really knows what is going to happen for certain with our economy and that is pretty reckless. But as we don’t know what is going to happen, Act II is more of a retrospective look at the whole situation. We know how we got here, but now we have to get on and deal with it.
“Splitting the records is something we’d always wanted to do, regardless of themes. It just felt like a fun way to write with time helping the creativity. Not all the songs on Act I or II are related to the Great Depression theme as there’s other things we want our songs to be about too. The next record may or may not be a concept, but all our songs have meaning so I imagine there will be a general theme somewhere.”
The EP is a strong follow-up to Act I, showcasing the band’s ability to fuse hard-hitting riffs and delicious melodic rock. Adding to that their unique politically charged themes and you’ve got a really intriguing, highly enjoyable combination.
The Great Depression: Act II is out on Friday (16 February).