Sit back if you will and envisage Birmingham trio Crimson Star‘s description of their hard-hitting rock sound as “the kind of music you need when driving a beautiful car, extremely fast across the Californian desert.” It’s loud and riff-heavy, but it’ll also have you screaming your lungs out to their huge singalong choruses.
The band’s foundations are high school friends James Shaw (vocals and guitars) and Ross Edgington (drums), who played in bands together on the Midlands metal scene for around a decade. They decided on a change of style and racked up their fair share of guitarists and bassists over a few years before discovering bassist Roj Ash in early 2015. They started writing songs and were booked in the studio that June before they’d even played a gig.
They’ve gone from strength to strength, culminating in putting the finishing touches to new EP Bay View, on which they’ve been working with the experienced producer Romesh Dodangoda (Bring Me The Horizon, Funeral For A Friend, Yashin, Bury Tomorrow and more) – and which is due for release on 19 January.
James told us: “This is our second time working with Romesh, we really enjoyed working with him last time for the Driven EP and when it came to picking a producer for the new EP, we knew he would be the person to make these sound huge! We wanted a massive bass sound for these songs and we knew from the last time that he is a bassist and loves bass so would produce the sound we wanted.”
And Roj added: “Romesh has a talent when it comes to creating the sound for each instrument, either carefully selecting the range of amps and cabinets and microphones to get the tone we want or complete experimentation using the ideas we all chuck at him as a group.”
The EP kicks off in fine style with the hard-hitting, hard-rocking The Pragmatist. A big chunky riff compliments the big catchy opening vocals “I’d tear the skin from the bone just to feel you, Baby give everything I own just to have you, I’d crawl a thousand miles just to see you.” The guitars drop out for the next round of vocals, then kick back in again as the intensity ramps up again ahead of a repeat of the opening vocals. A funky bassline leads into a high-pitched guitar solo then the opening riff dives back in, before the chilled vocals set the scene for one final rocky smash. It’s an excellent, riff-heavy, rocky yet catchy introduction to the band. Check it out now in the video below:
La Prom opens up with a big smash of guitar chords, then floaty high-pitched guitars come in then ease out leaving a wandering bassline underneath gradually building vocals. A really catchy chorus of “Goodbye to the happiness that we once knew, Hello to a misery forced on me and you” follows with bigger guitar chords jumping back in support. The pace drops down again, then dreamy atmospheric guitars float over the lighter vocals before diving into another fast chorus, which ends on a big smash of rocky chords that swiftly flow into an awesome winding solo supported by grinding bass, then a bigger rendition of the chorus sees the song go out in an almighty outro.
That’s followed by the funky riff that opens up Once, which leads into a slow, brooding verse that soon gives way to a huge singalong rocky chorus “Let’s find some wings so we can fly away, To a star so far and leave this world behind, I did not know this could happen, I did not know, did not know.” James’ vocals sound huge, especially with the booming chords, driving drums and chugging bass supporting them.
The joyously titled penultimate track Euthanise Me begins with a seriously doomy opening riff that ends on a smash of chords, which bring in an ominous opening verse that begins “Round and round it goes, Coming back again, Over and over, Flowing through your brain, Erase and replace for your own happiness, Easier said than done your mind is a mess” supported by a meandering bassline. Another smash of guitars brings in a more intense chorus “But who am I to judge from the past mistakes that I have made, ‘Cos euthanise me too, Get rid of the pain, It drives me insane.” It suddenly drops down into another creeping verse that builds once more to a heavy chorus, which ends on a big cry of “Yeah it drives me insane” alongside a really cool heavy riff that becomes increasingly darker before giving way to a high-pitched guitar solo.
The EP ends on the rocking Gimme Some, which opens up with a trademark Crimson Star fast-paced chuggy riff then drops into a verse that begins laid-back and gradually builds in intensity. A booming guitar riff then kicks in for a fast-paced, singalong chorus of “Stories create a fear, Holding back the reality, Open your eyes to the truth, Hidden by the powers that be, Open your eyes” which ends on another riff that you can’t help but smash your head up and down to. The second chorus flows into a huge mass of almost shouted vocals that give way to big screeching high-pitched guitars before jumping back into a few repeats chorus and ending on the big bouncy riff.
Bay View is fast and furious, with loads of big booming riffs and raw, edgy vocals that really pack a punch. All in all, this is a fantastic EP that will breathe a bit of warmth into those cold January blues upon its release.
The band’s sound has been honed on the influence of rock legends like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against The Machine through to Muse, Tool and Queens of the Stone Age, while James tells us: “I love Pearl Jam! For me they are the ultimate band. I’m also a fan of a little known guitarist called John Frusciante, he can write a tune or two.”
And on what inspires their music, James says: “Simply the love of music! Unless sleeping there isn’t an hour that goes by where I don’t listen to some sort of music. I physically could not cope with not having music in my life.”
And Roj adds: “We try not to stylise or select particular topics. We tend to get influenced by current affairs, be that politics or incidents or current trends, and James simply just writes about what he feels at the time.
Crimson Star have a few hometown shows in Birmingham and Wolverhampton in December and will be looking to book as many gigs and festivals as possible nationwide to promote the release. More info on all their gigs is here.
Bay View is out on 19 January and can be pre-ordered here. While The Pragmatist is already available on Spotify and YouTube, and a second video will come early next year. And, in terms of other aspirations James, slightly tongue-in-cheek I suspect, tells us: “We want to be models for the summer range of Primark clothing!”