Friday 11 May 2018

The Infested - Raw Ensemble

Labels: EHC Records
 Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
Release Date: 21 May 2018


1. Believe
2. Hoax
3. Shackles
4. Shackles (Part 2)
5. Fight Or Flight
6. Dopamine
7. Monsters
8. SSRI Or Die?
9. Buy To Survive
10. Another Life
11. Outro
12. Turn The Page (Demo/Bonus)

It's safe to say (and it has been said many time) that Leeds (West Yorkshire, England) has one of the best music scenes of anywhere in the UK. From the most extreme metal right down to the artiest punk, Leeds has so much to offer musically. It makes sense then for the city that gave birth to Slam Dunk festival to be producing punk rock and ska bands that could rival any band that appeared on that festival's stage in it's early days. The Infested have been building their brand of "Punk Rock Ska-Core" since 2003 and are due to release their third full-length "Raw Ensemble" in a couple of weeks. The album title bares a cheeky little nod to Slayer (War Ensemble anyone?), but the music could not be further removed.

My frame of reference when it comes to punk rock bands employing Ska is the likes of Mad Caddies and Less Than Jake, but I’m probably a bit out of touch with such bands in the UK. Believe proves that The Infested are all about fun, while having a serious message within their lyrics. The music is solid but the vocals take a bit of getting used to, even for someone who likes hardcore and noisy punk. On Hoax, the melody from the guitars and the grittiness of the band as whole is great. In fact they could be the UK’s answer to Zebrahead, but with more bite. In true punk fashion they don’t hang around at any point on this record. Shackles exhibits their instrumental song-writing, which is super good. Shackles (Part 2) is a ridiculously fast number that makes use of a lot of hardcore influence but retains the band’s infectious punk as well. 

By the time The Infested reaches Fight Or Flight, they seem to have definitely found their song-writing chops. The longer running time and the added melody in the vocals seem to thrust the record to another level (in my opinion!). They stick to a briefer formula with Dopamine and the up-tempo urgency really stands out. It drags you kicking and screaming into the album’s second-half with raging drums and old-school punk flair. Thrash metal riffs and dual-guitar harmonies greet you on Monsters and that should give a clue as to how heavy this song is. That said, The Infested does still throw down plenty of skilfully played ska during it’s latter passages, creating a song of two distinct halves. They dial things back slightly on SSRI Or Die? but the ska is still alive and present, in a song that’s probably the angst-ridden anthem of “Raw Ensemble”. Absolutely brilliant! The further you get into this album, the better it becomes and the better in makes you feel. 

On Buy To Survive, The Infested play their longest song. Once again the longer playing time suits their music just as much as the fast stuff does. They’re even classy enough to throw an acoustic song into the mix. Another Life gives you more restrained musicianship but with the same intense vocal delivery. The Outro, which is actually the penultimate song of the album is an orchestral song complete with the usual pomp and drama. it’s really cool though in a slightly cheesy way! There’s a demo/bone song stacked on the end of the record called Turn The Page and it’s the closest song The Infested has to something nearing pop-punk. Overall this is a great record with bucket loads of energy. The harsh vocals may be a bit abrasive for some but this is punk rock and it was always meant to go against the grain. Nice job!

You can stream album opener Believe via EHC Records below:-

It's currently available to pre-order via the bandcamp page above on all formats.

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