The steel city of Sheffield has been a hotbed of metalcore activity in recent years, ever since a certain band came exploding out of the scene with their sights set firmly on the horizon. For better or for worse, their success seems to have paved the way for a slew of likeminded bands intent on combining the vitality and aggression of hardcore with the weight and melody of metal. The latest band to march in time to that beat is Fates Upon Us, who arrive with their self-titled debut EP after just over a year of existence.
The release kicks off with the discords of ‘Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game’ (if you think that title’s ridiculous, just wait until you see the others) before rolling into a chugging riff, which barely lets up for the rest of the track, though it does evolve and change shape in a manner that hints at subtle genius. The screamed vocals operate at a pitch higher than an ADD suffering toddler on an ecstasy trip, sounding oddly reminiscent of Birmingham’s Amongst The Survivors, before they descend to a much more tolerable level. So far, so-so, but then the clean vocals arrive, so nasal that you’ll find yourself wanting to swat them away. It’s from here that the song dissolves, caving in on itself before ending in an utterly abysmal and lazy sounding gang chant.
The second track begins with a nu-metal riff so monstrous that, had it been written in 1999, it would have made Fates Upon Us superstars. Still, it’s guaranteed to ignite dancefloors up and down the country; it’s just a shame that it’s overshadowed by an utterly pedestrian breakdown that refuses to relent for most of the remainder of the song. It only manages to redeem itself towards the end before lead single ‘If Cats Had Opposable Thumbs’ politely takes over. Its mid-paced, metalcore-by-numbers structure and acute lack of inventiveness makes it an ideal choice for a single, as does its chorus which, to be fair, is by far the catchiest moment of the EP. There are some mastering issues however, which means that the sound levelling is a bit lacklustre.
Aside from this the production is good. It’s bold and dense, adding a weight to the music that may not have been naturally achieved. It especially allows the drums of Carl Jackson (by far the band’s strongest asset) to cut through the mix, most evident in ‘Boys, We’ve Struck Gold’, which also features the EP’s most memorable guitar riff. If there’s a weak point in the production then it’s the amount of reverb applied to Danny Costello’s clean vocals, making it sound like Brian Molko is singing in the next room.
Fates Upon Us isn’t bad at all, but it’s far from great. In fact, if there were one word that could be used to describe the release, then ‘mediocre’ would be a perfect fit. But, for a first EP from a band who have existed for little over a year, this is no bad thing at all. When you consider the first releases of some of metalcore’s heavyweights, it actually shows great potential – Atreyu started out with ‘Visions’, an effort that can only be assumed to have been an elaborate practical joke, before turning their career around; Bring Me The Horizon’s first release was the completely formless and utterly fucking abysmal ‘This is What the Edge of Your Seat was Made for’ and yet they’ve managed to garner critical acclaim in recent years. In releasing a run of the mill debut EP Fates Upon Us have nothing to be ashamed of, if only they can learn to hone their song writing craft and create something that hints at an original identity.
Fates Upon Us’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FatesUponUs