This is a review of "Untitled" recorded by Substate. The review was written by Nick Kearns in 2005.
Rock. Or, if we’re feeling particularly fruity, RAWK. Down-and-dirty, balls-fully-out Rock, fat of ass and fat of riff. Yup, there’s no disguising it: Substate are unapologetically Rock. However, they also possess in their audio arsenal a deft touch with dynamics and a thorough grasp of melodic nuances that elevate their songs and overall sound well above the level of average pub-plod noodlers and into something altogether more coherent, imaginative and enticing.
“Whale Song” (presumably titled because of the aquatic operatics at the start) is the opener here and kicks off with a riff that’s halfway between “Bombtrack” by Rage and “Block Rockin’ Beats” by the Chemical Brothers. It’s the sort of thing one can imagine listening to in a seedy underground bar whilst smoking a cigar. But, woah, wait a minute, put that Cuban down for a moment and just listen a bit closer… suddenly we’re into the verse and being serenaded by some rather lovely lilting arpeggios and a singer that sounds like Mark Morriss out of the Bluetones. The Bluetones?! Yes, the Bluetones. Progressing into a melodic yearning chorus this is a good example of how to open a CD with style.
Next song “Polemic” is probably the strongest song here, showcasing some stylish opening muted guitar work that sounds like Audioslave covering Iron Maiden before a strong, memorable chorus and a riff-laden coda that reminds me of System Of A Down. Closer “Back Again” ambles along with a kind of bluesy swagger, and the song is just about structured and played well enough to keep the attention throughout, however it’s the least strong of the three songs on the EP.
Ballsy and imaginative enough to stake a firm stake as “ones to watch out for” Substate meld the intricate with the obvious and show just how memorable guitar-based rock music should be created.