Still – { }

cover art for Still { }

Ah dammit, I already used up my “Hull is bleak and this band from Hull have made bleak music” quota for the year with my review of Mastiff’s record. I could come up with a way to say the same thing in a different way and hope you didn’t notice my laziness. But where’s the fun in that?

Still are, admittedly, a new entity to me. However, if you have had your eye on the UK hardcore and metal scene over the last few years, it’s very likely you’ve already heard of this quartet from Hull. This debut album is a long time coming, given their first EP was released in 2017 and they further teased us with a second EP in 2019. But a release every two years isn’t bad if it’s worth the wait.

Before diving into the music, I noticed that this is another UK act who took a trip to No Studio to visit Joe Clayton. This record is another reminder of his versatility. Despite working with what feels like half the bands in the UK’s heavy music scene releasing music this year, { } doesn’t sound like anything else.

The record feels thick and visceral, with sludgy guitar tones helping to create a suffocating atmosphere despite the very clean production, allowing everything to shine through clearly. The meaty low-end from the bass ensures this atmosphere continues when the guitars move further down the fretboard to give us dreamier passages.

At their most furious, Still channel the urgency of Cult Leader, but before you know it, the song has writhed underneath you and shifted to one of the many different elements the band pull together smoothly and flawlessly, juxtaposing discord with melody as they go.

With so many different elements to their sound, it would be easy to fuck this up and create an unfocused mess. Thankfully, Still avoids this. { } feels like a cohesive journey through the collective torment and frustrations experienced by the band rather than merely a collection of songs. Because of this, shifts in tempo and intensity within songs feels natural rather than abrupt, and also makes it hard to pull out a single song to recommend to someone on the fence. In my book this is a good thing.

I have genuinely enjoyed my time with this album, but despite this I can’t help but feel that it is far too long. Even without the final track, which itself is 3 parts, it would still be too long. I recently listened to Jamie Lenman talk about Reuben’s debut album and he mentioned he thought that it was too long at 45 mins and 16 songs.

Obviously there are different standards for different genres but given the aural battery Still have put down on this record, it would hold up to multiple plays much more comfortably if you were left wanting more at the end of a playthrough instead of being exhausted.

Despite this, Still have somehow managed to inject their post-hardcore attitude into a cohesive and compelling blend of doom, blackened hardcore and, surprisingly, post-metalesque passages to create one of the strongest debut albums I’m likely to hear this year.

Even though it’s thoroughly unsearchable and an SEO nightmare, Still released { } through Trepanation Recordings on 24th September. You should pick it up here.

Leave a Reply