Although many have bemoaned the perplexing amount of time that it has taken Napoleon to deliver their debut full-length, a look at the band’s history thus far will suggest that the Exeter four-piece will be more frustrated than anyone by their constantly hampered progress. A revolving door of line-up changes and an ongoing debacle of shifting frontmen now looks to be behind them with the addition of vocalist Wes Thompson to their ranks; a seemingly solidified line-up and the emergence of ‘Newborn Mind’ ushering in an exciting new era for these most talented of the current UK crop.
Deftly combining ultra-tech complexity and soaring melodic hardcore sensibilities, ‘Newborn Mind’ provides a sustained barrage of jaw dropping moments. Showcasing his credentials as one of the country’s premiere guitar prodigies, Sam Osborn‘s performance throughout is little short of extraordinary, his a fret melting display of glistening lead breaks and ears-agog rhythms (check out ‘Brought Here To Suffer’ for some particularly glorious six-string excess).
Framed by his bandmate’s wickedly adrenalised bluster, aforementioned new recruit Wes Thompson more than holds his own. A robust singing voice, seasoned roar, and knack for huge clean hooks (‘Remedy’) provide an imposing foreground presence, and whether it’s the playful melodies of ‘Maps’ or the joyously vicious surge of ‘Afterlife’, his iron plated pipes are a muscular match for the instrumental whirlwind around him, and, indeed more than this, imbue what could be seen as a somewhat overbearingly supercharged record with all the songwriting tropes and dynamic detours to keep ‘Newborn Mind’ firmly grounded in the world of ferocious modern hardcore.
An assured and convincing first outing, this is a record which revels in its unique vision, striking an exquisite balance between rampaging instrumental flair and insistent melody. Perhaps testament to five years of refining their craft, or maybe pointing towards a ferocious creative wind in their sails, ‘Newborn Mind’ is as distinctive and down right thrilling as melodic hardcore gets in 2016, and, with any justice, marks the beginning of a lengthy and prosperous period in the spotlight for Napoleon.
Written by Tony Bliss (@TBliss88)