Freeze the Atlantic – Speakeasy
Supergroups; comprising of members from previously successful, critically respected bands.
They’re similar to superhero teams.
Take the Avengers for example, made up of Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Thor (to name but a few). Each one an incredible hero, powerful and full of leadership whom together, struggle to find an easy middle ground where they can work together to make a difference, create a better world.
You can see where this strained analogy is going can’t you?
Freeze the Atlantic, featuring Chris Knott on vocals, Tom Stevens on guitar, with Andy Gilmour of Hundred Reasons fame and ex Reuben members Jon Pearce and Guy Davies, are a band which immediately, but understandably, have high expectations placed on them by fans of the member’s previous output.
‘Shivering and Dazed’ opens up Speakeasy in classic, post-hardcore fashion. It’s all frantic, spattering drumming, layered vocals, staccato guitar riffs from Andy Gilmour, and a satisfying, distorted punch of heavy bass riffs during the bridge. The subtle melody in the Tom Stevens’ rhythm guitar adds a Smashing Pumpkins influenced sense of depth to the production, with lead guitar taking one or two points from Jimmy Eat World’s back catalogue.
Bonus points awarded for the ever appreciated use of palm mute as well.
Knott’s vocals are different enough from Colin Doran’s work on Hundred Reasons and Reuben’s Jamie Lenman, to successfully avoid comparisons on both counts, bearing a stronger similarity to Ben Folds if he were British born. This is most clearly showcased on ‘Crestfallen’, an uplifting yet albeit sombre piano and string led affair, that only goes on to support the similarities between Knott and Folds style.
‘Le Track’ could easily be a Jetplane Landing or Fighting With Wire song, such is the intensity and grime of the riffs. It positively throbs with angst and a need, nay a compulsion to be moshed to in a sweaty pit by teenagers. Part hardcore, part grunge, it is the natural child of Hundred Reasons and Reuben parents, and Knott’s vocal when almost strained, akin to Mike Duce of Lower Than Atlantis fame, offer a satisfying juxtaposition against the dirge and dirt of bass and guitar. When played live, this will kill the crowd.
‘Loses All The Romance’ feels as though it would have been perfectly suited to Hundred Reasons’ sophomore effort ‘Shatterproof is not a challenge’, all interesting rhythm changes and that slightly unsettling, creeping sense of foreboding that flowed throughout the album. Colin Doran taking guest vocal duties does make the track feel more like a secret Hundred Reasons B-Side than an original Freeze The Atlantic song though, and distracts the listener somewhat, as you’re left wondering why Hundred Reasons aren’t one of the biggest rock bands around?
Album closer, ‘Feather in a Hurricane’, with Jon Pearce’s bass guitar pounding against Guy Davies’ sharp, snapping hi-hat, feels like Freeze The Atlantic bogarting Tellision’s sound by playing the bass and rhythm guitar off against each in a smiling inducing middle eight.
Maybe it is because this a band made up predominantly or seasoned musicians, it could be it’s because Hundred Reasons and Reuben were friends before they split. Or maybe it is just because the Freeze The Atlantic is just honestly, very good, but whatever the reason, one thing’s for sure: this feels like a band at home within itself, confident and comfortable.
Being absolutely critical, this album and the band are not reinventing the wheel, and in this day and age, nor will Freeze The Atlantic find it easy to get daytime radio play on BBC Radio 1, but by God, Speakeasy is an album clearly produced with an intense love for music, both live and as a form of art in general.
It’s impossible not to listen to this and not feel somewhat nostalgic for the glory days of Post-Hardcore (can it really have only been a decade ago?), but then again this is not to say the music feels dated or irrelevant. Lower Than Atlantis, Deaf Havana, Don Bronco and Canterbury should all feel indebted to Hundred Reasons and Reuben for the legacy they left, and if you’re going to follow in their footsteps, the very least a band should be aiming for is to match the influence Hundred Reasons and Reuben had on modern British Hardcore.
Referring back to that strained analogy of supergroups being similar to a Superhero team, it just reminds you that when the charts are full of Dubstep and ‘R’n’B goes to Ibiza’ tracks, the humble guitar, bass and drum kit are still the most dangerous of weapons when placed with an enigmatic vocalist. Especially when they’re not trying to overpower each other. As it stands, this is a confident and strong album, full of standout tracks and a keen love for a catchy riff and unafraid to be a love letter to modern rock.
Freeze The Atlantic might not be able to save rock music, but they’ll damn well avenge it.
Words: Fuzz Caminski