By Lasse Brawn
Within thirty seconds of EP-opener 'Watchmaker,' you'll know whether Lasse Brawn are for you or not, as 'Watchmaker' immediately throws up a solid wall of grinding, heavy metal riffs, punctuated by fast and furious drumbeats.
Even 'Watchmakers' relatively quieter verses of groovy basslines are given a serious injection of anger thanks to frontman Scott Lewis' ragged, hardcore vocals. It'll either be completely your thing, or will having you switching Lasse Brown off in favour of something a bit mellower.
Second track 'Brand House' is completely overwhelmed by Richard Thompson's drumming. While the Lasse Brown drummer has a distinctive style and is capable of playing at mind-blowing speeds whilst still managing to stick to a tune, the drums are often all you can hear of 'Brand House.'
'Brand House' is built on stomping riffs and the sound of Lewis doing his best to scream himself hoarse but, with those drums splattered all over the track, you'll have trouble hearing any of it.
There's also large sections that feel directionless, most notably a long stretch of Lewis rambling away over a messy sprawl of technically-frightening but headache-inducing drums and grating riffs, that never seems to go anywhere.
However, 'Brand House' finishes off with a punishing, pedal-to-the-metal blow out where the rest of the band finally make enough noise to take the edge off those drums, and 'Brand House' expires on a high.
'Silence Is Golden (NHS Schemes)' sees Lasse Brown let up on the fury, just a little bit, with Lewis forsaking some of his screaming in favour of a broken-glass croon with the occasional, surprisingly hooky lyric you just might be moved to sing along to.
'Silence Is Golden (NHS Schemes)' is overall a more mature, considered tune, with plenty of groovy basslines overlaid with long, squealing chords that makes for a catchy listen. Even the drums are toned down a little so, rather than pounding your ears into submission, they lend this song a quirky bounce that perfectly complements its angular, stop-start sound. 'Silence Is Golden (NHS Schemes) is proof that Lasse Brown can pen a good, solid tune, and not just make the listener's ears bleed.
Lasse Brown come over all punk for the furiously paced 'You Could Use More Lipstick.' Verses of galloping drums, frenzied vocals and gnashing riffs are guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping, and you can imagine this song getting everyone moving when it's aired live.
Less accomplished, is the bridge section. The muttered vocals don't quite create the black-hearted, brooding atmosphere you sense Lasse Brawn were aiming for. Even worse, all those vaguely atmospheric vocals build to a ramshackle anticlimax of juddering guitar and disjointed drumbeats that'll have you wondering what the band were thinking. But, as soon as 'You Could Use...' cracks out the punk-paced guitars and lightening-fast drums, all is forgiven.
Like 'Brand House,' final track 'Chemically Dependent' completely falls apart at several points, and becomes little more than angry noise. The chorus is particularly awful, with a combination of short, sawing riffs and Lewis' disjointed vocals, that takes Lasse Brawn's 'unpleasant' slant to the extreme, and makes them almost impossible to listen to.
This is a shame, as the verses are slow, brooding and infused with menace, with an eerie central riff that's guaranteed to give you the shivers.
Lasse Brawn's EP is somewhat all over the place, scoring as many hits as misses, but 'Watchmaker' and 'Silence Is Golden (NHS Schemes)' are great, anger-packed hardcore/metal tracks with their fair share of hooks.
The other three songs all have stand-out moments, and always present the band as impressive musicians, in particular their drummer, who has an enviable ability to play at triple the normal speed. The problem is that these songs have an equal number of messy, directionless moments where Lasse Brawn being to sound like noise. Reigning it in a little would possibly have brought the whole EP up to the high standard of 'Watchmaker' and 'Silence Is Golden (NHS Schemes).' These two tracks, at least, are worth checking out if you have a soft spot for either hardcore or metal.