Hertfordshire metal quartet, Before the Sirens, have supreme confidence in their song writing skills and an unusual humility to accompany them. Alun Davies (vocals/guitar), Adam Aldridge (bass), and Chris Tidey (guitar) started playing together as a band at age eleven. To put this in perspective, they’re now north of thirty-three. People from the southeast England scene will remember them as Glass Artery. They regrouped and rebranded in 2019 with a new purpose – to write the heaviest and catchiest songs imaginable. Many artists tried this in the 1990s, and many succeeded, but Before the Sirens have no interest in treading old ground. Their debut EP is a bold statement from a group that want to make rock music as pleasing as possible for a metal audience.
Let’s be clear. You could use the lazy term of melodic metalcore to describe this music, but that would be an injustice to the grinding grooves and monstrous Godflesh bassline in opening track, ‘Low’. It’s a gritty and candid song about the struggles of being a functioning alcoholic. You can feel the glare in Davies’ eyes and hear the anguish in his voice as he clings to the vibrato note in the chorus like a person who cannot let the reassuring hand of his lover escape him. It’s a thunderous rock anthem with a drum beat to match Jimmy Chamberlain (Smashing Pumpkins) in his prime. The sharp syncopated Helmet riff in the pre-chorus is almost as lethal as the breakdown at the end.
‘Don’t Let Me Go’ positions itself at the apex of alternative rock and metal. Who remembers when Tool used to produce four-minute songs with deep guitar incursions? Davies could offer a pathway to maturity for the younger generation of metalcore bands that pitch their voice in the annoying emo whine. Listen to the gritty tenor projection of the chorus – the density and deliberate fragility are its greatest features. The clear English enunciation in ‘Lights Out’ gives the edgy drop-B riffing and disco snare beat a surprise mid-90s swerve like Machine Head in The Burning Red era. Drummer, Alex Budge, strides into the bridge with a zealous change of tempo. This is how you write heavy music in a pop format. Northern Irish godfathers, Therapy?, would be proud of the muscle and sweat behind the simple structuring of these tracks.
Only one thing will frustrate you about this EP, and that’s the surprise decision to leave the glorious chorus of closing track, ‘Under Darkened Skies’, unfulfilled. Why reprise the magnificent power of it only twice when it deserves at least four renditions in the arms-to-the-sky pose? Davies makes no secret of his love for Killswitch Engage here and in penultimate effort, ‘Silence’, which displays a faster pace and more extravagance on the fretboard. You can see why this band supported SBR favourites, Black Orchid Empire, at their London show in 2019. The guitars flex their muscles like street ruffians, but the vocals command the mix with officer-class confidence.
Before the Sirens create music because it’s the only thing they know. How many bands can say they started at age eleven? How many can write music as enlivening and as gritty as this after two decades of organic growth?
Release Date: 02/06/2023
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Low, Under Darkened Skies
Suggested Further Listening: Therapy? – Troublegum (1994), Killswitch Engage – As Daylight Dies (2006), Fudge Tunnel – The Complicated Futility of Ignorance (1994)