North Wales rockers Rosen Bridge aren’t content with writing great metal tracks, they’re also on a mission to re-write the widely perceived concept of the genre.
The five-piece of vocalist Antony Jones, guitarists Eddie Edwards and Marcus Williamson, Rowan Jack on drums and bassist William Robertson are honing their very own ‘uplifting, spiritually-driven metal’ sound – which may well sound like something of an oxymoron to many of you. But what you can expect is a big sound that is both powerful yet harmonic, crossing the boundaries of metal, rock and alternative.
We had a chat with the band this week to find out more, starting with the general assumption that metal can’t be uplifting. Eddie told us: “I think that’s the thing, there’s obviously a lot of listeners out there that write metal off as a genre, with a preconception that the music will be depressing, or that it will make you angry. Personally that’s not ever been my experience with the genre. I can listen to the heaviest song ever and feel so damn good afterwards. I think what we aim to do as a band with that label is to challenge people that don’t normally listen to metal, to have a go on it and take a positive experience away with them.”
While Rowan adds: “I think what makes us different is that we all have very different influences and styles, some of which are pretty lyrically angry and others are the opposite. What we all agree on is that we shouldn’t be afraid to allow these different influences to appear in our music.”
The band released second EP Dreamcatcher last week, of which Eddie told us: “We’re really excited about it, and we really can’t wait for people to hear it! I think people will get a good clear feel on this record about the messages we want to send out. I think there are a few things in there that people aren’t expecting as well, which is going to be really interesting to see how it’s received!”
The EP combines soulful vocal hooks with more complex sections, with moments of heaviness combined with lighter, more melodic sections to keep things interesting.
It starts in style with a twisting guitar lick and grungey rhythm support and driving drums in the intro to Dreamcatcher before launching into a lively opening verse. Big low-tuned guitars follow before a hugely enjoyable melodic chorus, which is followed by a return of the opening lyric alongside wailing vocals. Jones’ vocals are powerful yet delicate, and perfectly contrasted by booming guitars and all manner of wild drumming. The track ends with a guitar solo supported by rolling drums, which flows into a final rendition of the chorus then a big rock out.
That’s followed by more of the same with Hold On, which sees Jones’ vocals battling a prolonged onslaught of excellent blast of metal guitar riffs. There’s a brief moment for breath before diving straight back into it, with winding guitar licks taking centre stage and a blitz of high-pitched notes through the chorus.
Never Grow starts off more slowly with a clean guitar lick soon replaced by piercing guitars and crashing drums in support of Jones’ brooding vocals. A big reverb noise lingers alongside a repeat of the opening lick, as Jones continues in the same vein before being joined by atmospheric guitars that suggest something big is coming. It soon arrives with a big drum roll then a deliciously low-tuned guitar riff and slow drums that gradually get more intense with the eventual arrival of high-pitched guitar.
The EP rounds off with its heaviest offering, final track Brand New. A big drum roll opens up followed by a brief smash of guitar then Jones’ vocals supported by just drums and bass. A big scream leads into an outrageously heavy breakdown that leads into a melodic chorus, with singalong vocals that again end in a scream and another awesome breakdown. The instrumentalism reaches its heaviest point on the record in the final outro as a high-pitched riff descends into low-tuned chuggy brilliance with massive cymbals followed by big high blasts of guitar. It’s a superb ending to an excellent record.
This is a fantastic EP that suggests Rosen Bridge will be worth checking out on tour later this month – which is even more true as the band tell us their live shows could get interesting. Eddie explained: “I’ve been told at our previous gigs that we’re a little heavier live than people expect us to be, so I think it’ll be funny to see what people make of that! I think you can just expect to see us really enjoying ourselves because that’s exactly where we want to be really.”
And Rowan added: “Like Eddie’s said, the energy in the songs levels up for us when we’re on stage and we’ll be playing a lot of shows where we’ve never ventured before, so a lot of people will be hearing us live for the first time and they can expect us to give everything we’ve got every night.”
The quintet have been playing music together as friends for years, so expect plenty more about these guys. Eddie says: “We’ve all been hanging out for years and just never really thought of being in a band together until recently really. What I think really made us want to do this kind of thing was being part of our local scenes and being inspired by the touring bands that used to come round. The atmosphere and community in our local scenes has probably been the most important catalyst for what we do. Our tribute to that is probably the positivity we’re trying to push through our music.”
Not only do these guys write fantastic music chocked full of awesome guitar riffs and big melodic vocals, but they’re also an intriguing proposition. Rowan explains: “I think what drives us is the experiences that we pick up from the world around us. I mean, that’s super cliché, but we like to attribute a solid meaning of why we’re writing something. If we have written something that doesn’t really stir us emotionally, it won’t make the cut. It takes us ages to write for this reason. We need to be inspired by something or really, really feel it. Personally, I get inspired by art and by things that I read, but I also like to bear in mind what I think people would receive well when we play live. When I watch bands live, the music tends to control your emotions and make you reflect on things, and I want our music to have that ability too.
“In terms of topics, we could be writing about anything! The key though I think with Rosen Bridge is to always give the lyrics a positive overlay. Because of the kind of people we are, we tend to start with usually dark and sad lyrics, but as the song progresses and the music takes hold a bit more, the lyrics tend to at least have a flipside to that. I can’t pretend that we’re always going have an uplifting outlook, but at the moment, it’s very natural for our songs to do this. We all really enjoy writing and playing music together so that tends to come across in our songs.”
So there you have it, for anyone that thought metal had to be all doom and gloom it’s time to think again. It wouldn’t be fair to label Rosen Bridge as pure metal, they have a fantastic combination of melody and pure heavy riffs, particularly on the album closer. But what’s certain is this a fascinating, exciting band for us to enjoy.
Rosen Bridge are on tour across the UK now, with shows in Birmingham, Hastings and Folkestone before three gigs in Wales before the end of the month. They’ll also be playing a metal all-dayer at New Cross Inn, in London, on 5 August, as well as a couple more gigs that are yet to be announced. More info on all their gigs is here.