Overall Score: 7.6/10 Songwriting: 7/10 Vocals: 8/10 Production: 8/10 Pros: Distinctive mix of styles | Band has tightened as a unit Cons: Clash of music style and vocals may divide listeners
Some readers may remember that last year I was given a demo to review by a young Yorkshire group called Sweet Exile, and that I had given it a somewhat lukewarm response. After taking time in the studio, the band has come back and challenged me to review their full debut EP and to see if my thoughts on them were the same back then as they are now. Challenge accepted.
From the start you can tell that the band have taken their previous influences and decided to create a much more cohesive mesh of styles including gothic metal, groove metal and metalcore. Vocalist Lauren Leigh is on top of her game, pushing her vocal chords to their limits from the off in “Obsession” in particular. The guitars have a nice thick tone and reflect a strong influence from modern metalcore as well as groove metal greats such as Machine Head (listen to the guitar work in the re-recorded “Guilty” and “Ice” for examples of the influence at its most obvious). While at times in the demo, the group seemed to be pushing themselves too far and struggled to keep up with each other at times, the musicianship has really tightened and they’ve shown more restraint in parts where the demo had previously come off as messy. The grooves at the end of “Guilty” are pure mosh quality and the track has clearly had a lot of work put into it as it stands as the highlight of the EP.
Production wise, the band have done themselves proud with a strong thick guitar tone, audible rolling bass, drums which don’t overpower the rest of the music and theatrical vocal work which creates a nice clash with the heavy nature of the music. Metal purists may not appreciate such a distinct clash and opinion may remain divided on the matter but the majority of listeners will appreciate how such theatrical vocals contrast and complement the guitar work. As the quartet gains more experience and hones its skills, these issues will be ironed out in any case as fans embrace it and detractors simply move on to other things if Sweet Exile fail to win them over.
In all this EP has impressed me. The band has taken on the criticisms of their demo and has come out with an extremely impressive debut EP which puts them in good stead for the future. Having already earned plaudits from the likes of Kerrang, and being a part of the famed Yorkshire scene which has produced the likes of Bring Me the Horizon and While She Sleeps, you should expect to see more of these guys in future.
Sweet Exile’s self-titled EP is out in late September. For updates, follow them on Facebook.