With excellent releases from the likes of Goodtime Boys, Vales and promising sounds from bands like Svalbard, not to mention the long-awaited return of Maths, it seems that, following the brief lull period that followed in the wake of the #UKSWELL scene, that British melodic hardcore is set to embark on another inexorable rise. In the same rich vein of form come Cornwall’s Crows-An-Wra, who’ve been plugging away on support bills for quite some time now (they were formerly known as simply Crows), but are ready to step up to the leagues of the aforementioned with their debut full-length, ‘Kalopsia’. It’s a refreshing blend of old and new sounds; fans of early At The Drive-In and newer screamo/“skramz” acts like Suis La Lune will both certainly find something to enjoy on this extremely accomplished offering.
An eponymous intro track commences proceedings, which turns into ‘Perseus’, a stage-setter for what’s to come. As well-employed pedalboards create a foreboding atmosphere, each instrument comes into play before frontman Greg’s distinctive vocal arrives at the fore. It’s an undoubtedly Bixler-Zavala-esque voice, but if you’re going to sound like someone, it may as well be the singer of one of the most definitive post-hardcore bands to have ever existed. These opening jabs give way to ‘Vibrant Colours’, an apt name as the pacy, jangling riffs could create quite the miasma of hue if one put oneself in the shoes of someone with synesthesia. An excellent quartet of songs is rounded off by ‘Constraint In Secrets’, which follows the pattern and tropes of a more traditional screamo sound, with some extremely frank lyrics from frontman Greg concerning insecurity in romantic situations.
Standing at 9 tracks in length with an average song time of around two-and-a-half minutes, this is a short album, which certainly aids in sharpening their delivery; this is terse, direct and passionate from beginning to end. The epicentre of ‘Kalopsia’ lies in two-parter ‘Heavy Heads (i)/Blossom (ii)’, the former featuring the female vocals of Elizabeth Birchley (a relation of ex-Crocus/Bastions guitarist Zach Birchley? Quite possibly) over acoustic guitar (a welcome change of pace during such frenetic action to this point), and the latter combining the sweetly-sung clean lines with Greg’s vocal amongst heavier surroundings, including the strains of violins toward the end of the track. It’s reminiscent of Pariso/Katie Malco collaboration ‘Tower Of Genus’, certainly no mark against them in my book. ‘Ataraxia’ contains some of the best work yet from the band’s nimble-fingered guitarist, as the band emerge into Fall Of Troy-esque territories of shredding.
This is not the first and by no means will be the last mention of Lewis Johns’s production-desk wizardry, and his talents see closer ‘This Will Soon Be Forgotten’ ring this record out with absolute clarity and effect – I think it’s fair to say the man is Britain’s answer to Kurt Ballou. To revisit the curtain closer’s title, one hopes this record will not soon be forgotten, as in a scene with a wealth of shining lights, this new beacon is amongst the brightest. Following in a long, rich vein of killer bands from Kernow, ‘Kalopsia’ earns its place amongst 2014’s vintage well. To sustain its lifeforce, post-hardcore needs bands with the vitality of Crows-An-Wra, and the least you can do to help breath new life is go and see this wonderful band live.
‘Kalopsia’ by Crows-An-Wra is released on the 15th September on Barely Regal, Wolf Town DIY and Boslevan Records.
Words by Ollie Connors (@olliexcore)