It would be fair to assume that any record entitled ‘Cathedral’ would stir up a lot of religious imagery, but this isn’t necessarily the case with Slow Riot‘s deeply atmospheric first effort. Its title is more telling of this atmosphere it manages to cultivate rather than alluding to any real religious themes, with its opening track ‘Demons’ evidently telling a story of emotional, rather than religious demons.

‘Demons’ is a fantastic opener. It is evocative of post-punk legends such as The Jesus and Mary Chain and Joy Division – again, more in atmosphere than musicality – whilst retaining a decidedly modern edge, fast-paced yet understated, building to a frenetic ending which embodies the spirit of the lyrics.

Next up is ‘City Of Culture’ – its driving rhythm and bass guitar intro invokes Nine Inch Nails at their most energetic, with its vocal melody not quite matching up to the music underneath. This provides a strange juxtaposition, which pricks the ears as you try to match music and lyrics together effectively. Where ‘Demons’ was ethereal and subtle, ‘City Of Culture’ pumps a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart of the EP.

‘Adele’ begins in much the same way as ‘Demons’ started, ending the same way too, in a crash of drums and guitars. It’s not a carbon copy, however, and just before its crescendo an ominous rumble of discordant guitars begins to build behind the vocals, a telling sign of what’s to come.

Rounding off this brilliant EP is ‘Cooper’s Dream’, beginning with an Interpol-esque bass line, once again building to a frenzied explosion of noise, before tapering off to end the record with a whimper, not a bang.

The band belies their already achieved post-punk tag with this record, with even the strange, haunting artwork’s use of light and shadow, as well as the ghostlike figure’s indistinct face alluding to the EP’s ambiguity of style. It undoubtedly incorporates elements of post-punk, a lot of the bass and drum work is reminiscent of the genre at its best, but use of guitar effects and highly charged crescendos swell into shoegaze territory, with Niall Clancy’s baritone vocals providing a sure post-punk footing.

Clancy’s vocal style does embrace his thick Limerick accent though, which sets him apart from other vocalists and provides a pleasing foil to traditional post-punk vocals, which can be rather homogeneous at times. The band certainly has a formula, and it works, though ‘City Of Culture’ does break the mould somewhat. At points the record creeps a little too far into overly-formulaic territory, certainly the aforementioned large crescendos are a massive feature, and any future releases would do well to steer clear of overusing them.

Overall ‘Cathedral’ is a confident, polished EP, thanks in part due to the work of producer Kevin Vanbergen, who in the past has worked with great modern British bands like Biffy Clyro, The La’s and The Maccabees, touches of whom you may find on ‘Demons’, which in parts is reminiscent of The Maccabees’ ‘No Kind Words’. Recorded at Faster Studios in Cardiff, home of the Manic Street Preachers (and incidentally, the Manics lent some instruments to Slow Riot in order to make the record – if that’s not a cool bit of EP trivia then I don’t know what is), ‘Cathedral’’s ethereal, genre-melding sound and foreboding atmosphere marks Slow Riot as an exciting prospect – assured, stylish and wonderfully dark.

‘Cathedral’ sees release October 23rd via Straight Lines Are Fine

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