Overall Score: 9/10 Ability to piss off your neighbours during a lockdown caused by a global pandemic: 10/10 Replay Value: 8/10 Songs: 8/10 Pros: Band have musically progressed to the next level | No filler Cons: Very little
“We won’t let them win, stand together as we say. Hate will never be the death of me”2205, Clouded Minds & Silver Lines
If ever 2020 needed a rallying cry, the guttural scream from frontwoman Lizzie Parry which fires those words into life must surely provide it. Hope over adversity, love over hate, and a crushing Tech Metal assault over just about anything that stands in the way.
Welcome to Sertraline.
It’s been three long years since the band released their last EP Guilty, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve been sitting around doing nothing. Live shows and festivals have been conquered up and down the UK, all while crafting what they hope to be the record that takes them to the next level.
Clouded Minds & Silver Lines is the best and most well-rounded piece of work that the band have produced to date. They’ve taken all of the elements that have gotten this far, knocked off the rough edges and packaged them into one perfectly polished record.
If you’re new to the band and are looking for an introduction, then look no further than lead single Inside Out. Its blend of vocal styles, soaring chorus and huge drum rhythms demonstrate what this band are all about. But rest assured that there’s so much more to this EP and this band than the now cliched scream verse, clean anthemic chorus formula. Mean To Me II finds the band giving a little nod to their past, before using it to power them towards the future. This is a track of contrasts, it’s a mix of past and present, light and dark, struggle and prosperity, but it’s the monstrous breakdown which steals the show. And by steals the show I mean that its cacophony of piston like drums and thundering guitars riffs hit you so hard you forget everything that came before it.
A semblance of normality returns on 2205 as the clean vocal on the opening verse almost acts as a palate cleanser. The band’s sound is as tight and compact as ever, and the result is another hard-hitting slice of heavy goodness complete with totally unexpected guitar solo. Much like a free beer, you might not think you need it, but you always feel better after it.
Screaming For Sleep might just be the best song on the EP and against a backdrop of unerring quality, that is high praise indeed. And part of that praise is drawn from the fact that the track performs the perfect bait and switch. Its intro is more straight rock than sprawling, cinematic Tech Metal but just as you find your feet, you’re knocked clean off them. The first verse doesn’t so much hit you in the face as damn near tear it off. It’s a pyroclastic flow taking the form of ear piercing, primal screams, concussive drums and guitar riffs designed to torch your senses. It’s beautifully brutal. There’s nothing more to be said. If you listen to one song off the EP then make it this one.
Closing effort Isolation moves away from its predecessor’s heaviness and instead dabbles in melody and a guitar riff which dances and skips over the drumbeat. As a genre Tech Metal can sometimes suffer from sounding soulless and lacking that emotion that really connects with a listener, but Sertraline have crafted a style which enables you to feel every word and hang on every note. And no more is that more evident than here.
In its simplest form Clouded Minds & Silver Lines is big, bad and wall shaking-ly loud. But to dumb it down in such a way would do it a massive disservice. Lyrically it takes hold of the listener and shows them the way forward. It’s an act of defiance, embracing the dark to head towards the light. But most importantly it’s so much more than just another brash, screaming Tech Metal record. It’s melodies and vocal harmonies, guitar solos and drum breakdowns and all from a very real place. Clouded Minds & Silver Lines is a record of the year contender, and Sertraline are band in the ascendancy.
Clouded Minds & Silver Lines is released on the 15th of May 2020, self released by the band.