The thing with melodic hardcore is, while bands will typically find success in their own box, breaking out into the wider market doesn’t necessarily follow. Napoleon are a prime example of this – the Exeter quartet have garnered some mid-level success since their formation in 2011, but they’ve never been able to break through the glass ceiling. And while debut full-length ‘Newborn Mind’ is unlikely to see them smash through, but it’ll definitely leave some cracks.
Musically, Napoleon ply a brand of hardcore that’s heavily indebted to the riffy, intricate skate-punk of the likes of Propagandhi. Because of this, there’s an unwavering pace that abounds this album, especially in the likes of ‘Different Skin’ with its almost math-esque riffs backing Wesley Thompson’s Sam Carter-like vocals.
It’s a breath of fresh air from the leaden one-dimensional-ness of some hardcore. ‘Brought Here To Suffer’ is unpredictable in the way it convulses through its six minutes, while ‘Of Jams, Smokes & Promises’ is one of the best songs Stick To Your Guns never wrote.
The main problem with this level of detail though, is that it can be a lot to take in at times. Napoleon are clearly proficient musicians, that much is undeniable, but sometimes tracks like ‘Stargazer’ feel so overly stuffed with content it becomes difficult to fully keep track of what exactly is going on.
Still, to have a band like Napoleon in the first place – a technical hardcore band that border on full-on progressive – is a great thing in itself. They’re still yet to properly find their feet, but the material on ‘Newborn Mind’ is strong enough to suggest that there’s a bright future ahead of Napoleon.
‘Newborn Mind’ by Napoleon is released on May 27th on Basick Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)