6 May 2017

The Without - Factions EP

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, USA, The Without are a five-piece Hardcore Punk/Metal act formed in 2016 after years of playing in local band around that area of the world.  Having amassed a collection of songs about their state of mind and things that had been happening to them, they started the process of recording this EP and picking which songs to focus on.  That is a tough decision for some bands, they have all these new tunes that they are proud of, but you do not want to release too many songs at once.  So, they have gone for the classic four-track EP release, which has been produced with help from Stephan Hawkes who has worked with the likes of Atilla, Chelsea Grin, I Declare War.  Now, saying as I live across the pond from Portland, I am not going to say that I have been following these guys or knew anything about them, but that is not important.  What is important is the music, so let us see how it sounds.

01 - Play Tricks

Out of the gate, 'Play Tricks' is a song that is steeped in the self-doubt and paranoia of a scared individual who is unaware of his or her self-worth.  Musically, this has a lot of melodic hardcore ingrained to its soul and it has a huge debt to Vision of Disorder and Life of Agony as there is a kinship with those bands (but not a rip-off, there is a difference).  It is a song that will start a circle pit in an empty room, dealing with heavy and personal issues, it is a powerful opening to this EP and a great number.

02 - Dead Gold

More self-doubt and paranoia on 'Dead Gold', mixing metaphors and aggression with a groove metal riff that smashes holes in the walls.  It has some great moments, the chorus is storming and as good as anything else I have heard from any Metalcore band you care to name this year, but there are a few points which are not clicking either, the bridge sections do not quite work as well as they should for my money here and give the song an uneven feeling.  But, it is still decent, powerful and will have people moving – what more do you want from a Metalcore act.

03 - Two Wolves

Starting with a slow fade-in of the guitar sound, 'Two Wolves' is a brave song from the band on this EP for my money.  Instead of the going for the smash & grab of the first two songs, 'Two Wolves' is tuned more to the bass and the drums and the guitars are just there to provide power to the rest of the group.  Vocally, there is another change to their sound, the vocals do scream sometimes, but there is no distortion to the sound and it does not sound as if they are going to break under a strain - not that there was any strain on the sound, the vocals on all the songs are really good.  It is a mature, confident Metalcore number that shows there is more to this beast then pure, unbridled aggression.

04 - Rat Party

In the style of Machine Head and other bands, The Without end on their harshest number with 'Rat Party'.  It has more Punk and Hardcore in the mix than Metal, it has a lot of angular riffs and instruments giving pause before kicking off once again.  I really like this track, it has a powerful punch and once again, it shows something different form The Without, but not straying too far from the sound of the 'Play Tricks' and 'Dead Gold'.

Now, the mark I am giving might seem harsh, but it has improved from when I first listened to the EP.  My first listen was a little bit indifferent to be honest, but that was probably due to the amount of music I was going through at the time (and that I am always consume for this blog). If I had have gone with that gut reaction, it would have been incredibly harsh on the band and it was something I recognised in myself that I was not ready to review this.  Now, not being the biggest Metalcore fan in the world, it was something I had to work at.  But after listening through for a few weeks, I can tell you that my opinion have improved a lot.  Maily this is due to the fact that The Without have delivered an EP which briming passion, anguish and commitment at its very core.  I love the work on 'Two Wolves', that is a great song and I love that they have a few different weapons in their arsenal of styles.  I would really like to see where they go from here, there is something here which has promise and for a debut EP, that is something that a lot of band cannot achieve.  I think my overall impression from this is that The Without are a band who are getting ready to ignite a mosh pit at a moment’s notice, check them out if you like Hardcore, Metalcore or Punk - you might find a new favourite band.

3.75 out of five - Decent, getting there (and really close as well)

Top track - Two Wolves

You can purchase the Factions EP on The Without Bandcamp page here.

You can follow the activities of The Without on Facebook here.

You can stream the Factions EP on Deezer here.

You can stream the Factions EP on Tidal here.

You can stream the Factions EP on Spotify here.

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