There is something other than faeces and fluoride in the water down on the South Coast of England. And it’s contributing to a burgeoning scene of some repute; while the energetic and promising Saint(The)Sinner passed into the night, Southampton’s Creeper stand the dark denizens hotly tipped to become the UK’s next mainstream breakthrough. So where in the pecking order do melodic Metalcore merchants and fellow Hampshire dwellers Our Hollow Our Home sit Continue reading
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Saint[The]Sinner were pulling a fast one by saying their latest EP Masquerades was self-released. With a huge, vibrant sound, the mini-album holds its own with established label backed brethren, as the vivacious guitars cleave the air, and the South Coast entity storm through a raucous set of anthemic, heavy post-hardcore tunes.
“Pash (Stratton – Guitars) is also a producer and engineer, but we put a lot of effort in to these songs and we really wanted the experience of going to a top studio”, begins clean vocalist James Laughton, explaining just how a self-release manages to sound so, well, pro. “And we had the opportunity to work with Romesh (Dodangoda – BFMV, All Time Low, BMTH) and because we knew this was such an important record for us, we didn’t want to put pressure on Pash to do that (produce) too. Added to this was having the opportunity to write and work with Romesh at Long Wave in Cardiff… we wouldn’t have changed how we did it for the world.”
“The sound was really important to us” confirms Laughton as we go on to discuss how having the right production can turn the right set of songs from really good to really good. “We wanted to have a “Big” sound, that sounded live and like it could fill a room. It was one of the things me and Pash talked about before we went to Cardiff, about having songs that would work really well live.” With one eye on how the material would work once they took it out on the road Laughton confirms “We went to a live practice room before recording. We’ve learned a lot from our mistakes in the past, we think we’re learning how to do it properly.”
In a scene drowning in Miss May I copycats (themselves not even the originators, but the middle ground), Saint[The]Sinner not only have a sense of identity in terms of sound, but also a focus lyrically. “One of my favourite lyricists is Brandon Urie of Panic! At The Disco, particularly from their early days” enthuses Laughton, “and he’s always done metaphorical, weird, macabre and twisted lyrics. So I came up with a concept of a vampire woman and tried to apply this metaphorically. Me and Luke (Juan – Harsh vocals) sat down and worked through my ideas and his ideas.”
The vampyric touch also further enhances the Atreyu link that’s prevalent in the bands sound, yet P!ATD don’t just feature as an influence lyrically, but spill over into Laughton’s melodies and hooks. “We never sat down and thought “Let’s be a British heavier version of Panic!”, but we grew up with that music, and the melodies and styles get stuck in your head. I didn’t necessarily realize I was doing something like it, but I’m happy if people say that” he agrees, before going on to talk about sharing the mic stand (albeit not the exact same stand…) with co-vocalist Luke Juan.
“Me and Luke are best mates, and in the studio we go back and forth like ping pong” the singer laughs. “We think of bands like We Came As Romans and The Blackout, who Romesh produced… I remember seeing them with two vocalists and thinking it looked really cool.”
“Look, the hardcore and the anthemic genres are what we’re really into” Laughton continues, considering just where STS fit into the market, being a slight anomaly in the UK scene, a fact that works in their favour, along with their songwriting panache and quality, to differentiate themselves from many of their competition. “We are trying to work those anthemic sounds into our live performances, and we can see in the UK, the response is there.”
Yet if post-hardcore, and the more anthemic side of metalcore, is catered for in the American market, would STS consider doing an Asking Alexandria and upping sticks, and crossing the Pacific?
“Post-hardcore is more of an American thing, and it’s popular over there, but I don’t think we’d do a full on AA, no” Laughton muses. “Though Luke has gone to Warped and Kevin Lyman recognised him and spoke to him. We’ve spoken about going over there to tour.
“We’ve met some great people in the industry who have helped us, so while we’re self-releasing we’re looking to work with a label in the US. But over here, there are loads of unsigned bands hitting up Europe, and we’re looking at going and getting out there. We’ve got a couple more videos coming up, and we can’t wait to take Masquerades out there.”
“It’s the one thing we’ve always wanted; to have a band that is heavy, energetic, yet catchy and uplifting at the same time. We do our best to get that, and it is mainly American bands you go to for that sound. But we write like that, because we write for ourselves.
“It’s then up to us to integrate that American sound to being a band in the UK and being successful with it.”
If Masquerades is any measure, this miscreant sextet have every chance of doing just that.
WORDS BY STEVE TOVEY
Since Kiefer Sutherland’s piercing, well, I was going to say eyes but let’s go with teeth, made rock chicks around the world swoon and crick their necks to be bitten, vampires and rock/metal have been more than bedfellows, with both aesthetics, lyrics, band names and even subgenres and scenes entwined. Cradle of Filth blew up by cleverly playing the vampire game (no, not ‘I Vant To Bite Your Finger’), Atreyu resurrected the spirit of the Old Ones in their ascension, Korn temporarily buried their career by associating themselves with the Queen of the Damned, even the hippest of the underground, Tribulation, danced with the children of the night earlier this year, Manowar penned one of their best songs (‘Each Dawn I Die’) in honour of the sleepless, and let us not forget Aiden, the dumb bastard black (formaldehyde) sheep of the flock…
And so Saint[The]Sinner have exhumed a classic, pale theme for their sprightly, theatrical pop-rock meets post-hardcore, and it’s a cape they wear well as, with a flourish, they swoop down on ‘Theatre Of Broken Dreams’ haunted house intro and sink their incisors into a vibrant, hurtling, fast paced metalcore lead off track to new EP Masquerades (self-released). As twin vocals trade-off, the throatier screams give way to an engaging, welcoming chorus and a pattern is set.
Keeping energy levels up throughout is one boon of Masquerades, a Premier League production is another, allowing the endearing and vigorous song-writing to flourish and (widow’s) peaks to peak. With the clean vocals adding an off-centre Panic! At The Disco feel to their arsenal, particularly on lead single ‘She’s A Vampire’, it’s a welcome addition to the heady mix of AFI, Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold and Dommin that is sure to see the band on a steep upward trajectory their burgeoning and bloody talents deserve.
The camp horror theme is a cute touch, but don’t let it detract from the fact that the English South Coast crew have summoned forth a beastly set of strong, gratifying, grin-inducing tunes. Saint[The]Sinner have hit the mix right on the money; whether it’s clean or scream on the vocals, it’s all about being dramatic and leaving those hooks in you, as fangs lock into your flesh and notable melodies are injected like venom into the bloodstream in a way that reminds you that, you know what, sometimes this metal thing is about energy and fun, and each track sounds like it was a (monster’s) ball in the creating.