By Mum Locked In Castle
Mum Locked In Castle have a talent for stealth originality: you don't realise quite how unique they are, until you start trying to pinpoint their influences. This EP could loosely be described as metal, although there are frequent nods to hardcore, and arrangements that mimic the inventiveness of prog whilst keeping a tight reign on the self-indulgence that often plagues the genre. There's also the occasional bit of flamenco added for good measure.
EP highlights are 'Milk' and 'Soft As Thorns.' The former, is Mum Locked In Castle's heaviest moment to date. At its finest, it nails that tuneful hardcore The Ghost of a Thousand do so well, winding a tight groove through shattered-glass riffing. But it doesn't stay within the realms of hardcore long, as 'Milk' brings in some tribal drums, coated in a fug of echoing, Mediterranean guitars and wafting vocals. This is what a traditional hardcore song would sound like, if they replaced the breakdown with a prog-metal interlude. 'Soft As Thorns' pulls a similar trick, moving easily between a bass-heavy crunch and some sparkly, exotic guitar-plucking. Mum Locked In Castle work two opposing moods and musical styles into one song with such care, that it isn't immediately obvious just how complex 'Soft As Thorns' actually is. Title track 'Lions Led' follows suit, threading a funky groove through the traditional brooding build-up and heads-down chorus you'd expect from hardcore.
In many respects, 'Wired' is the EP's slower-burner, but it's also the most immediate song on 'Lions Led.' It continues the exotic flavour of 'Milk' and 'Soft As Thorns' with echoey guitar lines that sway and weave hypnotically behind meaty drum rolls, and rise to the forefront at the tail-end of 'Wired's storming hardcore chorus. 'Wired' shunts and shifts around the hardcore, rock and prog genres, refusing to be pinned down.
EP-opener 'Forgotten Prayer' alternates between the usual hardcore trappings of blastbeats, body-slam riffing and guttural vocals; and a chorus of jigging guitars and smooth, unusually soulful, vocals. Like the rest of this EP, it is somewhat lacking in that immediate 'wow' factor but, after a few listens, you grow to appreciate just how stealthily Mum Locked In Castle are bucking current trends.
With this EP, Mum Locked In Castle continue their mission to sound a little like this genre, a little like that genre, and completely like themselves. The songs on this EP fit the traditional shape of rock, hardcore and prog tracks, but what Mum Locked In Castle do inside those set boundaries, is subtly different. Hardcore merges into flamenco guitars, abrasive screams and soulful crooning sit side-by-side, and dreamy vocals wind around crunching bass. Each song manages to surprise you, while still giving you exactly what you want.