ALBUM: SHVPES – Pain. Joy. Ecstasy. Despair.

Release Date: October 14th 2016
Label: Search And Destroy/Spinefarm Records


Birmingham metal band SHVPES summon the four horsemen of the rockopolypse in their debut album, ‘Pain. Joy. Ecstasy. Despair.’. Listeners will feel all four with an album that packs serious punches, but doesn’t quite reach greatness due to some over-experimentation.

From the track names alone, it seems that SHVPES are preoccupied with falsehoods, with ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ and ‘False Teeth’ standing out immediately. The latter contains shades of Linkin Park, but the song itself is so visceral (Griffin Dickinson yells, “We’re all fucked” at the end) you’ll want The Matrix to exist just so you can fight your way through it. Arguably, the biggest deception of all is the album which, due to the typography and picture, gives the impression of a country-fried Theory Of A Deadman rather than the nu-metal their music offers.

Shedding light for the deceived and clueless sheeple is a theme that expands to most of the lyrics. Dickinson pulls Zach De La Rocha duty in the strong lead single ‘Skin And Bones’, calling “Wake Up! Wake Up!” over the chorus, as though we needed further proof of his fiery passion present throughout the rest of the songs. This 90s style of truth-to-power vocals is, admittedly, something that hasn’t been missed much, but SHVPES deliver it well and confidently.

Kicking off with ‘Bone Theory’, the album stomps slowly into life and then knocks it up a gear quickly, laying out a manifesto within the first minute which displays the band’s full dynamic range: big choruses, dropped-beats, riffs, Skindred-style rap vocals, and the ongoing onslaught that is the underlying metal. Sounds like a lot to handle? That’s because it is. Though the songs work overall, in attempting to break the mould so often and so quickly the album is let down, and the listener exhausted. Somehow the experimentation that lets this band out of the nu-metal box somehow also makes this album feel more generic than it should.

‘Two Minutes Of Hate’ cannot go without praise, thanks mostly to the images of Korn it conjures in the slap bass. The awesome title-track provides more context to the whole album, including some welcome Staind-meets-The Mars Volta washed out guitar. “It goes on, and on, and on, and on / Nowhere to be found” states the ending; and indeed we can only hope it does. SHVPES have something special here; the raw material of greatness even though it’s somewhat unfocused. Let’s just pray their next one is more ecstasy, less despair.

Written by Chris Yeoh (@Chris_Yeoh)

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