Kingmakers And So I Watch You From Afar
AS YOU may have noticed, one of our more popular independent bands have just released a new record.
Heirs is the fouth LP from And So I Watch You From Afar, the north coast-bred act whose steadily increasing proficiency at crafting fearsomely noodly and often crushingly heavy mostly instrumental mood rock has enabled them to carve out their very own musical niche over the past decade.
Actually, it's been the quintet's ability to reproduce their records on stage which has really sustained them: for me, ASIWYFA have always been a band best experienced as a full-on body-vibrating, ear battering, spasmodic dance-inspiring live assault.
The Sargent House affiliated band are currently busy taking their current Heirs-heavy live set around mainland Europe, just to be extra sure they're on top form by the time they return to play a pair of home fixtures at Dublin's Olympia and The Mandela Hall at Queen's University Belfast on June 19 and 20 respectively.
If you haven't sampled Heirs yet, the band are very kindly streaming it on their various music portals around the Net, including their very own website at Asiwyfa.com.
There's a lot of talk about how the last two ASIWYFA records have been a big departure from their earlier work, with the more pointedly melodic All Bright Futures having provoked protest from some long-time fans.
However, while the band have now firmly embraced tunefulness and abstract, ethereal vocals as extra weapons in their sonic arsenal (Heirs also marks the recorded debut of ex-Panama King Niall Kennedy on second guitar), to be honest, they are still as immediately identifiable on first play as they've ever been.
There's pretty much no-one else out there putting this particular hypnotic, almost dancey spin on guitar-based post rock.
The pulsating, steadily intensifying maelstrom of crystalline guitars on the cinematic title track typifies ASIWYFA's 'widescreen' approach to their craft.
Fans will lap up Rory Friers' signature, spiralling waves of hammered-on pedal processed six-string madness topped by mass vocal chanting on epic opener Run Home and Animal Ghosts's transcendent Mariachi-flavoured soundscape: there's more frantic fret-work and double-kick pummel from the mesmeric Wasps, and they throw in an unexpected Glitter Band-esque stomp to ram down the firey licks of woozy, hyper-strummed groover A Beacon, A Compass, An Anchor.
Elsewhere, the anthemic Redesigned A Million Times finds ASIWYFA tipping their caps to the gang-vocal-topped intelligent post-hardcore attack peddled by Axis Of (who feature Frier's wee brother Ewen on guitar), F**king Lifer delivers groovy metal-tinged funk and more vocal chanting, while People Not Sleeping expertly melds herky-jerk skronk, granular waves of shoegaze guitar and crashing percussion in a highly effective manner.
If you didn't like them before, Heirs is unlikely to offer too many revelations for ASIWYFA sceptics.
However, the band have once again managed to mutate their sound in new and interesting ways while remaining true to their original sonic blueprint, offering yet more proof that ASIWYFA are set to keep on keepin' on for the foreseeable future regardless of whether every single fan sticks with them for the ride.
For those prepared to listen without prejudice, Heirs offers a repeat play-friendly feast of atmospheric guitar-led madness par excellence.
Book your ticket to experience the joyous fury of the live ASIWYFA assault right now by hitting up Asiwyfa.com/shows.
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