Copse – Mara | Mondrem

Copse - Mara Mondrem cover art

It’s very easy to become jaded and disinterested as a music writer. We get hundreds of promos each week and it’s hard to sift through the chaff to find the chunks of gold. That’s not how that saying goes but that’s part of the problem. Even metaphors are boring now.

When I feel like this and the thought of reading tonnes of PR spiel to work out if this is a band I might be interested in (the good ones give you an FFO, the band ones give you a wholly inaccurate FFO) makes me feel tired, I force myself to do it knowing that there absolutely will be albums in my inbox that will not get the deserved attention or coverage because their record label hasn’t hired of the boutique PR agencies to ensure they get the cover of Metal Hammer. That’s why I started writing reviews, after all. And that’s the story of how I found Copse.

You’ll get a range of opinions from people when you mention “post-black”, and these opinions will vary depending on what each person thinks post-black metal is. With Mara | Mondrem, the debut EP from Copse, we’re talking about black metal drums, powerful screams, haunting atmospheric sections and incredible melodies. An x piece from in England, Copse are treading a path shared by a number of other acts from the UK right now. The difference is that Copse is actually really fucking good.

I know that black metal is supposed to be grim and dark but the two tracks on this EP represent more of a catharsis than they do a rage. By the end of the second track Mondrem, I’m not left feeling happy exactly, but certainly more hopeful. Devil Sold His Soul vocalist Ed Garrood-Gibbs is perfectly suited to the task of proxy for everything I feel inside but can’t express, constantly hitting the perfect timbre to accompany the music.

The beating heart of this band however is drummer Ryan Westwood. I am biased when it comes to music and always listen first for the drums, but in this case, I didn’t need to seek them out. They are right there front and centre of the mix.

I’m not saying I don’t find the melodies hypnotic, and I’m not saying I don’t headbang along when Bono (?!) and Phil drop the riffs. I just can’t help but notice that each passage of these two songs is demarcated by a shift in the drum pattern. There’s nothing super technical here, it’s just solid chops that allow the song to move forward and keep you interested in where Copse is taking you.

Look, it’s outstanding music. It is £3 on Bandcamp. It comes out on Friday. You’ll be kicking yourself if you miss this and don’t get the chance to say you were on the train from the very start. It will be a real shame if Copse doesn’t follow this up with a full-length at some point late ’22 or 2023. I can guarantee it will be in AOTY contention. For what it’s worth, finding this gave me a boost of motivation to keep digging deep into the Inbox and find the underdogs or the new dogs and share them with y’all.

Mara | Mondrem will be released by Copse on Friday 25th February. You can buy it here.

Kieran McNairn

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