Utilising a “For Fans Of” approach to reviewing isn’t one that this particular scribe is wont to do, particularly when faced with an entity such as UK five-piece RXPTRS and their debut full-length Living Without Death’s Permission, as you could chuck a plethora of other bands you hear snippets of into that pot – Alter Bridge, Cancer Bats, A7X, AFI, letlive – and still not really get near the core of what this band is about (and possibly reference some bands that would put off the very people that would love the shit out of this).
It’s not that often (says long-in-the-tooth, but still lovin’ the metulz Reviews Ed) that something or someone slaps you round the face with the refreshing splat of big wet fish due to its freshness, vibrancy, and, well, the difference to the norm in our rock/metal world. And for the second time this month, it is Metal Blade (in conjunction with Blacklight Media, this time) updating their roster; their milkshake bringing more than just the boys to the yard, but the riffs and tuuuuunes, and these five particularly handsome gents, with their slick quiffs and oiled and sculpted beards, have rocked up (and rocked out) with guitars a-ripping, drums a-pounding, and a series of great songs; ten of the buggers to be exact.
Punk, metal, post-hardcore… and pretty much the best bits of the contemporary scenes of each those… share equal billing throughout Living Without Death’s Permission to great effect. Tracks to particularly look out for include the hook-laden ‘Rock Bottom (Is A Stepping Stone)’; a bone-fide anthem, all speedy vocal headbanging verse, stomp-and-shout bridge and arena-filling soaring chorus; ‘Demons In My Headphones’ gives it a run for its money though, vocalist Simon Roach delivering a chorus Jason Aalon Butler would have been proud of on a song that launches into an absolutely ripping heavy metal solo, and ‘Gutterflies’ is magic. Such is the diversity that the sleazy ‘The Death Rattle’ sauntering in and dropping some dirty punky blues with a Fall Out Boy-styled chorus (and a children’s gang vocal dropping in half way through) raises not ire, but a smile and a slinking shoulder bouncing up and down in time.
It’s a rare breed of band that, on their debut, turn up (loud), fully formed, with a diverse, interesting, consistent and high quality batch of songs, and no immediately obvious downside, and it’s hard not to get excited at the potential (more than potential, this shit is realised, debut or not – I mean potential in terms of a lightning hurtle up the bill to festival mainstage status) RXPTRS possesses. We’re not just talking X-factors, but style with substance, confidence without arrogance, slickness without smugness, and most importantly damn good songs excellently performed.
9 / 10