Album Review By Chris Palmer
There’s nothing unusual about people meeting up in recording studios or jam rooms, especially when those people are musicians. Such scenarios can also result in something good, or even great, being created as such creative minds join forces, becoming one. It could be said that such an occurrence took place in a Manchester jam room during the summer of 2015 …
It was a time when the collective minds of ex-members of Manchester acts My Wooden Pillow and Driven Apart met up to play music together. These four like-minded souls got together for the sole purpose of writing music that they enjoyed playing and listening to. The purpose was to make songs that flow with groove-laden heavy riffs and driving beats … Completed by the addition of ferocious and, at certain times, soaring melodic vocals … Thusly, Impavidus was formed.
Consisting of Michelle Adamson [Vocals], Patrick McBride [Bass & Vocals], Gav Smith [Guitar & Backing Vocals], and Chris O’Rourke [Drums], Impavidus was formed with no rules, no restrictions, and no preconceived ideas of how the music should sound.
In January 2016, this quartet released their debut EP, “Impavidus”. Recorded at Skyhammer Studios and produced by Chris Fielding, this EP contains four tracks that are spread over a total running time of 18 minutes and 22 seconds. Opening number, “Heaven’s Gate”, launches straight out of the blocks with heavy grooves, powerhouse drumming and bass lines, and aggressive vocals as the quartet aim for the jugular immediately. The first thing that springs to mind is to bang your head vigorously to the heavy rhythm. Those aggressive vocals are joined by a combination of clear/melodic as well as a more extreme/growl styles during specific sections throughout. It’s a good combination that works well, adding another element to the heavy music. The track flies by with its heavy riffs and quick-paced rhythm, which includes some excellent shredding guitars towards the end, thus leaving you eager to hear what will follow.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised as great guitar-play from Gav opens “Exculpate”. The pounding drums from Chris and heavy bass lines from Patrick soon join proceedings as Impavidus take it to the next level … Triggered by an increase in tempo around 25 seconds. This is the point when Michelle’s delightful voice appears with a clearer style than the previous track. Those more harsher vocals make an appearance in places throughout and, again, the combinations work well. I’m really digging the heavy riffs as their grooves insist on wrecking my fragile neck with such a relentless pace. Chris’ drums and Patrick’s bass lines vibrate through my headphones, rattling my skull. Between 3:34-3:55 you’re treated to more shredding guitar solos, which beg you to break out your air guitar!
The second half of this EP is already upon you, as well-timed drum beats and a guitar riff, which are supported by Patrick’s outrageously heavy bass, announce the arrival of the outstanding “Black Mirror”. As you reach 0:11, things break out into an insanely heavy rhythm that’ll instantly result in you banging your head as an increase in tempo arrives, swiftly followed by Michelle’s vocals. Her style has that clear vocal range that I like, which includes good melody. Those more aggressive vocals from Patrick and Gav are equally predominant … The combination working extremely well, like previous numbers … The vocal chants that materialise in places add another good element to the heaviness of the music, giving the song an additional sound that hasn’t been present so far. To be honest, this track is a thoroughly enjoyable listen which storms by with its impressive chugging rhythm. Fading out towards the end, you’re allowed time to breathe after this quartet have well and truly left their mark on you … And so ends an absolutely terrific track with its infectious and memorable rhythm. It’s certainly one of my favourites on this EP, and one I repeat numerously.
The final track is “Scourge” which smacks you in the face immediately with another barrage of heavy riffs, drums, bass lines, and vocals. The heavy riffage threatening to inflict serious damage to the neck as this track progresses. Like before, there’s good changes in tempo/pace throughout which don’t detract from the track’s main rhythm and groove. Gav’s guitar-play is of a high standard and is supported by that powerful rhythm section of Chris and Patrick, which pummels away at your skull. The vocals consist of the more aggressive and extreme nature, which work well with the other instruments. Around 2:38 the pace slows dramatically and you’re treated to the sounds of guitars and Michelle’s vocals, which are a pleasure to hear. Chris’ drumming begins to increase in speed around 3:09, thus launching a gradually increasing tempo before you’re hit again at 3:42 with a beautiful vocal attack as Michelle reaches piercing high notes. The remaining instruments continue their upward trajectory in tempo/pace as the musical onslaught continues to pound into you as screeching/shredding guitars lead you towards the end of both track and EP … What a perfect ending.
With this debut, Impavidus have made an EP which contains four tracks of Heavy Metal that have a Death Metal feel to them. Each track consists of some terrific grooves and are played with consistent rhythm and pace. The musicianship is excellent, with all four band members performing with precision, consistency, and confidence.
With “Impavidus”, this quartet have made a truly excellent debut EP. Each track has its own unique style which remains interesting and keeps you hooked throughout, all achieved whilst keeping to a signature sound that will be recognised as Impavidus after only a few listens.
I can honestly say that I simply can’t get enough of this EP. I listened to the four tracks repeatedly, losing count of how many times I’ve actually listened to it! The EP is one that will grow on you over time, one listen really isn’t enough. On the downside, four tracks and 18 minutes, 22 seconds of Impavidus really isn’t enough … I want more!
This debut EP is the first stepping stone in getting Impavidus on the Heavy Metal map and into the scene of the quartet’s chosen genre. I sincerely hope the band is here to stay and I await with anticipation for the next release from them. I insist that you buy this EP as it will be an excellent addition to your music collection. Go on, don’t be afraid …..
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