SEASONS – Chapters EP

Within a year of forming, Bedfordshire based alt-rock metal band SEASONS (always capitalised) had released two EPs and embarked upon four tours. Obviously, they believe that it’s the hard work that gets you places, but what’s perhaps more impressive is how professional the band sounded straight off the starting blocks. Their second EP, ‘What Comes Around’ really captures a band keen to display a well honed, multi-layered sound while simultaneously really pushing for a distinctive identity. Sure, you’ll hear bits of other rock bands in there, from both alt-rock and emo spheres, and there’s a few clear influences, but rarely anything that feels like a direct lift.

Their 2018 release, the ‘Chapters’ EP very much follows a similar crossover style but is better produced, with the guitars having a much harder crunch. ‘Gateway’, in particular, opens with a massive riff. Part chug, part downtune, sort of retro yet sounding very contemporary at the time of recording, it’s the kind of riff that grabs in an instant. The fact that SEASONS then couple such a great riff with a barrage of “whoahs” really hammers the point home…and regardless of what follows, the track gets off to an amazing start. It then drops into something a touch quieter but still in keeping with the mood that’s been established; what’s most surprising, though, is the choice of vocal. Most band would choose a tough voice with a hard rock bent to compliment such a big sound – SEASONS, much like the weather itself – are all about contrast. Frontman Grant Tuffs drops into a very melodic vocal, holding a tone that perhaps has more in common with soul than rock, but it really works in the way that he takes each line and gives the performance a sense of heart. The rest of the band work hard to make the number as good as it is, of course, and complimenting the voice, the bass works a heavy funk sound, before the guitars return for another round of crunchiness. It’s a strong opener; you’ll hear traces of other bands from the nineties through to the present, but this complex combination of alt-rock and soulful grooves is very distinctive in its own right.

‘One Last Night’, at first teases with something a little faster and lighter, but once the verse takes a hold, there’s plenty of punch once more. The busy sound is multi-layered and joined by filtered vocals which means its easy to draw a quick comparison with some of the material from the second Marmozets LP [2018’s ‘Knowing What You Know Now’], which isn’t a bad thing. Although not as complex as the opener, this track is perhaps stronger – the twin guitars develop a hefty downstroke that sounds like things could drop into math rock indulgence at any point, while the chorus is one that’ll really stick. Shaking things up a little more, the title cut stokes up the emotive vocals, placing them against a heavy riff creating the ultimate contrast between heaviness and melody. Tuffs’s voice more than occasionally retains an emo-ish edge – his preferred register carrying more than a hint of Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump – but it never outshines the riff. In terms of riff alone, this is the EPs true highlight, being allowed to move seamlessly between a heavy chug and almost funky alternative groove via James Noble’s taut drum style. Throw in a big hook – that’s big rather than “fuck off massive”, though these guys are surely capable of that – and you have a real winner.

A lovely melody informs the guitar work throughout the partially softer ‘Feel Alive’, especially during the tapped intro and it’s that melodic ear that stops the usage of programmed beats becoming too intrusive. This track offers a constant push and pull between a heavy chorus riff and pop-ish verse dictated by more soul-inflected vocals, but eventually it all comes together by the second chorus where harmony vocals, crunchy riffs and a very emo-ish intent create a wall of sound. Provided you can find something to like within this style – here, less original and more like a mash-up between Panic At The Disco and a riff from Avenged Sevenfold tempered by a more alternative downtune – then this has the potential to be the EPs strongest track. In another change of style, ‘Consequences’ begins with harmony vocals and clean guitar work, suggesting things could turn a bit Matchbox Twenty, but the guitars eventually arrive with one of the EPs heaviest riffs on a track that divides its best interests between alt-metal and a choppy post-rock style, tied together with the harmonious vocal that was so quick to present itself. Along the way, you’ll also encounter heavy lead bass sounds – so often playing second fiddle to the guitars, Bradley Beach’s bass work might be SEASONS’ most undervalued element – and a chorus that’s a fine example of melodic alt-metal, delivering a great power without ever feeling the need to split opinion with a growling style. As with so much of SEASONS’ material, though, it’s the riff that leaves the most indelible impression…and with the volume cranked, this sounds even better.

At still a relatively young age for a band at the time of release, SEASONS show a great maturity throughout ‘Chapters’ and have a huge sound on which they’ll surely be able to build. If you’re one of those people who like your rock and metal to stick firmly with a classic sound (and possibly a slightly stale smelling denim jacket), then this really isn’t going to be for you. If, however, you like the idea of a Panic At The Disco styled vocal jostling against a riff that’s heavy enough for Sevendust, but have a passing fancy for the complex styles Marmozets, Mallory Knox and Fort Hope, then SEASONS should definitely be on your list of bands to check out…starting with this EP.

March/April 2018