With the high standard of debut ‘Newborn Mind’, Exeter’s Napoleon were faced with the unenviable task of topping it. Forfeiting the usual route of streamlining the previous success, the band have taken a completely different avenue with its follow-up, ‘Epiphany’.
From the opening of ‘Godspeed’, sharp and clean chords fight against crashing percussion and schizophrenic vocals. As the track progresses towards arching melodies and skipping notes, it becomes apparent that there’s going to be a lack of distortion on this record.
Admittedly it’s unusual to have minimal distortion in melodic hardcore, but if you’re willing to put aside pre-conceptions and take the record in, you will soon see that ‘Epiphany’ has a lot to offer to any fan of the genre.
Tracks such as ‘Fantasist’ crunch through the speakers, rarely giving you a second to rest. Guitarist Sam Osborn hurtles through percussive muting before layering hypnotic leads that drift into the verse. From its neck swinging chorus through to the harmonised coda, the track provides instant replay value.
Taking on the mammoth task of steadying the ship is drummer James Mendoza, jumping between polyrhythms and grooves with ease. Halfway through the record, Mendoza unleashes a plethora of blast beats during ‘Living Ghost’.
Amidst the virtuoso techniques of Osborn and the throat shredding vocals of Wesley Thompson, Breslford manages to create continuity whilst ensuring the perfect amount of dynamic tension that the record demands.
The concept of larynx destroying vocals amongst crisp guitar tones seems otherworldly, but Thompson pulls it off. By delivering the lyrics with sincerity, you can’t help but be hooked by his performances. This isn’t to say that is the only technique used as ‘Ignite’ showcases many aspects of his range. Scuttling from frenetic shrieks to spoke word passages at the drop of a hat, Thompson embodies multiple elements of melodic hardcore in quick succession.
Album closer ‘Above And Below’ runs at lightning speed, flying through pounding drums and winding melodies with no remorse. Piercing screams cut through breakdowns with lines such as “I’ll never be like you” ripping through the dense instrumentation.
With ‘Epiphany’, the band have taken a bold step towards pushing the boundaries of the genre, creating a record that demands patience and multiple listens. Filled with dense layers and untamed aggression, Napoleon have created new limits to the melodic hardcore genre.