Some bands spend their early years releasing the occasional single there, the odd EP here before making the step up to a full-length album. That’s not the case for British rock newcomers Winchester. The trio have made an ambitious entrance with ‘Life Begins At These Dead Ends’.

With comparisons to some of the UK’s most influential post-hardcore bands, Funeral For A Friend, Fightstar and Biffy Clyro, ‘Life Begins At These Dead Ends’ is a bold concept album with its central character involved in a cautionary story with a distinctive start, middle and end. Beginning under a cloud of betrayal, they go on a journey before eventually realising it’s ok to make mistakes and to start over. In between vocalist/bassist Adam Catalan, guitarist Scott Mahoney and drummer Max Edkins produce an eclectic array of sounds, taking in elements of alternative, tech, and prog rock with dashes metalcore occasionally thrown in. And as we find out, it’s also a subtly lyrically complex record with hints of socio-political commentary and mental health popping up throughout.

Following its release (and a shining 4.5/5 review), we asked Winchester to give us a detailed breakdown of the nine songs that made up ‘Life Begins At These Dead Ends’.

1. Life Begins

This song was very much intended to be the introduction to the album and the story within. We want people of all lifestyles to listen to us and therefore we decided to use this track to ease people into associating with our sound and cautionary tale. It is the story of someone who feels lost, used, betrayed and scared by the world and the people around. It starts off as very mournful and (as it does in life) proceeds to take a turn as the finger of blame is pointed.

2. Diamond

We wanted to make something anthemic and defiant with this one. There are so many people that have a deep-rooted anger inside them based on what is happening on and to this planet. Amazing opportunities and responsibilities are gifted to people who seemingly don’t deserve them, and it’s very easy to say ‘I could do it better,’ when someone in charge messes up. I come across a lot of people who say the world would have been better off if humans hadn’t touched it, and this song takes on that theme. Who is next in charge and how do we approach things? It’s very easy to take the extremist route from this worldview.

3. Animal

As the title does not suggest, this one revolves around the personal acknowledgement of the animal inside us. The one that isn’t scared or hesitant and just goes out into the world despite the dangers and anxieties you may have. It can start as a coping mechanism that is actually quite useful to introverted people, but eventually becomes a crutch and even something that can negate any progress you’ve made. It can make you act or lash out before thinking about repercussions. It is suitably heavy and twisted for the lyrical content I hope.

4. Safe In Sound

This song started as a song about writer’s block but evolved into more of a woeful, last stand from someone who is trying to find the right things to say and a way to say them. It’s someone trying to formulate a structure that would support them for so long, yet its coming apart at the seams. It is also about honesty. Trying to find an honest voice and vocalise what you are truly thinking for sanity’s sake. All within a post-hardcore power ballad.

5. At These

As the only instrumental track on the album, we wanted to carve a midway point. The lack of lyrics or insight into the character highlights the sort of description-less epiphany that someone might go through at a turning point in their life. A shift to a positive forward momentum.

6. Problem

This song became a very blunt dig at the negativity that infects everyone from time to time. Sometimes you trip up in a ditch and just keep digging a deeper hole for yourself. As the album’s character has gone through an intense depressive period, this is essentially a hard look in the mirror as well.

I’ve always found it quite abrasive when people tell me to just get over it, but more often than not, I come to that conclusion myself. The music accompanying this song is more along the pop-punk side of things to highlight that getting over your problems, no matter how hard they seem, can be a good way to start along the path to recovery.

7. Line Up

No matter how good and optimistic you can be as a person, it will always be healthy to keep people higher up the ladder in check. Despite what Spiderman’s uncle said, great power seems to come with great irresponsibility a lot of the time. Power can definitely corrupt leaders or influencers and it is the responsibility of everyone else to try and discourage that kind of behaviour. Otherwise, it will continue. It’s not about violent resurgence this time but more of a declaration that if things work the way they are supposed to, anyone is replaceable in their role and if they take advantage of it then they will lose it.

8. Set Me Apart

This seems like it could be the ballad of the album but it isn’t as simple as that. It’s more like a victory cry, for getting the strength to get over things that haunt you from the past. It’s not about burying them but leaving them behind. Betrayal can taint someone for a long time and limit their growth. If you can use that pain to spur you on to brighter things then you have already won. By looking out for number one no matter what the world throws at you.

9. Dead Ends

This track was intended to come out of nowhere unexpectedly. You would have thought that the album ended with its final theme played out but this track draws attention to the fact that there will always be obstacles. No matter how optimistic or focused you are, there will always be something trying to drag you down. This is very much a summary of the whole album as our characters comes to the easy conclusion that every dead end is nothing but the start of another chance to get things right. Another chance to build from the ground up with the things you’ve already experienced serving as a helpful guide, not a cruel master.

‘Life Begins at These Dead Ends’ by Winchester is out now.

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