Self-released sophomore EP. Recorded at Hidden Track Studios. Produced by Oz Craggs. Released on 23 March 2018.
I have this strange relationship with metalcore. At its heart it’s a fusion of extreme metal and hardcore punk: two genres that I love. But I still struggle to wholeheartedly embrace metalcore. I know it’s because of the brash, uncontrolled and shout-y vocals—like a small dog yapping over a kick-ass punk metal band. Give me a Michael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) death metal growl any day, or a Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) bark. But there is just something about the rah-rah-rah-rah nature of the typical metalcore singer that just grates with me. That said, if you look back at the metalcore albums I’ve reviewed on 195 Metal CDs you’ll see that they have averaged 74%, so there must be something there that I like.
Cove—as you will have no doubt guessed by now—are a British metalcore band who hale from Kent, the garden of England: home of the iconic white cliffs of Dover; the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury (the leader of the Church of England); and the country through which the rail track to the channel tunnel ploughs itself.
According to guitarist Pete Woolven, Cove set out to write a personal and cathartic EP that was uniquely Cove that didn’t sound like any other heavy band at present. “We wrote A Conscious Motion with a view to writing an EP of songs for ourselves that were cathartic and personal. It deals with the struggles of members within the band, dealing with losing everything that you once lived for, to watching a part of someone else you love fade away.”
The EP begins relatively gently with the opening rim-shots of “Coincide: Collide” (track 1) building with a single-note bass, joined shortly after with a full-on, full-sweep, punk-style guitar riff. New singer Ben Shorten’s vocals are initially melodic until the band hits full stride in the chorus and Shorten reveals his obligatory metalcore holler. As songs go it has pace and dynamics, but predictably I find the uncontrolled shouting to be its weakest point—the harmonious accompanying vocal melodies redeem the song a little providing new layers and interest.
“Solis” (track 2) hits the ground spitting out the lyrics, “This is the beginning of this story / It started from an end / After broken choices / It’s time to amend”. It’s shouted. Most of the song is shouted. And I know that’s the metalcore way—I’ve already said that—but… anyway, the music is great: start-stop riffs that pulse like a sinister heartbeat. The production is clear and well balanced.
“All I Believe” (track 3) has a very gentle and delicate feel to begin with until it suddenly bursts with energy. This is probably my favourite song on the EP. It has a really nice dynamic, it builds and falls, and has a nice contrast of dark and light moments. There is a passion behind the lyrics, and some lovely instrumental moments: chugging bass guitar, flurries of distorted guitar breaking up otherwise regular-paced riffs. And Shorten’s shouting vocals are pitched, like shouted singing, which makes such a difference and takes the song to new levels.
The shortest track on the EP by far is the 1′ 29″ instrumental “Host” (track 4). It opens with a recording of what sounds like a NASA conversation between Houston and a space craft; it’s reminiscent a little of Celtic Frost’s “One in their pride” from Into the Pandemonium (1987). The music is gentle, pulsing and atmospheric. It’s a pity the track isn’t longer, I could listen to music like this all day.
EP closer “Reflect: Resolve” (track 5) ups the pace again. It leans heavily on a catchy, bouncing riff that morphs a little towards the end of the track as it slows down and simplifies. This is a well composed song that beautifully showcases many aspects of Cove’s musicianship and song-writing skills: it has a little bit of everything for everyone without diluting who they are.
Whether Cove achieved their goal of writing something that doesn’t sound like anything else out there at the moment, I’m not sure. But they have certainly penned an EP that has integrity and personality. I like the dynamics present in most of the songs, and appreciate that vocalist Ben Shorten does go a little off-piste with the usual metalcore shout-fest which positively takes the songs to new levels.
Personally, I preferred the final three tracks but if that’s any indication of the quality of music we should expect to hear from Cove in the future then British metal fans definitely have something good to look forward to.
Review score: 80%
I kindly received this EP to review from Inception Press, an artist-friendly, UK-based, independent, alternative music publicity and management agency. I didn’t get paid for this review but I do get to the keep the EP. I am not linked to either Cove or Inception Press.