Five-piece hardcore outfit As Lions walk into an apocalyptic wasteland of their own creation with their debut EP, ‘Aftermath’, which, while trying to herald the end of days ends up feeling flat.
It’s odd to see a band kicking off their career with such a pessimistic record. Far from scene-setting, As Lions are trying to bring down the final curtain on a world that they’ve scarcely started to build. The music, while competent, leaves the lyrics with a lot to answer for, namely – Are we giving up the ghost, or are we full of hope?
Lead singer Austin Dickinson doesn’t seem too sure himself, singing, “White Flags over the mountain / Lost out on good advice,” at one point during the surrenderous ‘White Flags’, but then moves into a slightly more optimistic, “I’ve exhausted my solutions, seen my patience turn to rage / The only thing keeping us strong is faith,” during the bridge.
The EP begins with a strong effort; the titular ‘Aftermath’ contains various Coheed & Cambria-esque sections that threaten to create a conceptual backbone to the music, but the lyrics let the song down. “Following the footsteps / Deep into the black / We echo in the darkness / Knowing there’s no turning back” stands out as reminiscent of bad school poetry.
The entire thing is almost saved by the third track, ‘Deathless’, which contains an absolutely storming chorus. Maybe it’s unreasonable to expect a 4-track EP to contain variety without feeling inconsistent, but it’s a nice change of pace. However, we’re brought back down with the final track, ‘World On Fire’, which sounds like Michael Jackson‘s ‘Earth Song’ was turned into a hardcore ballad and ended with the vapid lyrics, “We’ve gotta make a change / For real”. After 15 minutes of pure bleakness, could Dickinson be any less vague with his antidote to a broken world?
It’s music that thematically should be interesting, but without a wider context beyond, “the world is a bit shit, isn’t it?”, it falls short. Dickinson noted on Facebook, “We had a mission statement […] to create the biggest, baddest hard rock we could, and on an almost cinematic scale.” Admirable, sure, but to attempt bleak, end-of-the-world rock just for the sake of it is like making an action movie that’s just 120 minutes of people walking away from explosions because it seems cool. The music hedges its bets between apathy and some sort of religious millenarianism.
Written by Chris Yeoh (@Chris_Yeoh)