Sombulance are a punk rock band from Portsmouth who have been around for a little while now. They actually formed way back in 2005 but in 2010 the five piece took a four year hiatus before getting back together with a changed line up in 2014. This year they have released a brand new six track EP named Lifer on the always excellent Lockjaw Records.
First up is the song The Articulation Of Afterthought. The opening of the track immediately showcases what Sombulance are all about - fantastic, technical guitar work along with some of the best soaring melodic vocals in the scene courtesy of Dean Harwood. Something I really enjoyed about The Articculation Of Afterthought is the series of ups and downs that happen throughout the song but also the subtlety of it all. The song takes you on that musical rollercoaster without you even realising that you've been on a ride, your breath however will have been taken away. The beginning of Lessons Lost is absolutely superb. That guitar riff - amazing. It's the sort of intro where you know after about three seconds which song it is. The song in general is harder hitting that the previous, with Marc Morey's drums really being pushed to the forefront of the song. Lessons Lost is about trying to learn from your mistakes and realising that you should have taken help and advice in the past. I really enjoyed the gang vocals of "We Can't Go Back, We Can't Go Back" that happen towards the end of the song. The third track on the EP is Here's To Liberation. After the harder hitting nature of Lessons Lost, it's refreshing to hear that Here's To Liberation is a bit softer, relying more so on Harwood's vocals than some crunching guitar riffs or pounding drums. This softer side shows off a great variation in Sombulance's songwriting ability, proving themselves able to do harder and softer songs excellently.
The EP's title track, Lifer, is potentially my favourite on the EP. Wasting no time at all in getting things going, Harwood immediately shouts out "Lifer" to start off the track. This really picks things up after the slower paced Here's To Liberation. Lifer throws a bit of everything that Sombulance have in their musical arsenal into a blender and comes up with an banger of a track. Lifer is obviously about being a outsider for life and being okay with that. Something many fans of the band and underground punk rock in general can easily relate to. The penultimate track on Lifer is named Downfall. Here we have a blistering melodic punk rock track that matches anything current staples of that scene in the UK, the likes of Darko or The Human Project, have done. The differences in melody with the guitar and the vocals works superbly and gives the song a really interesting feel. There was one particular line in the track that I really loved - "Stand Up To All That We Can't Face." Those are tattoo worthy lyrics. Finally we have Better Left Behind. Better Left Behind begins with a much darker tone that anything else on the EP. After a bit of an eerie beginning the song sets off at a blistering pace. Like Lifer, a lot of different elements of the Sombulance sound come together on this track. On Lifer, the song, all of the different styles come together effortlessly, however on Better Left Behind it felt a bit clunky on my first listen. After a couple of listens though I soon began to love the song. All of its different little details in the music and the vocals really keep you guessing and don't allow you to get comfortable with one particular sound.
Lifer shows a band that are on the top of their game. The UK and Europe is absolutely packed with brilliant melodic punk and hardcore bands, combining the technical guitar work and the fantastic vocals together and creating energetic and passionate music. On Lifer Sombulance have staked a very good claim of being among the best the genre has to offer. Fantastic work.
Stream and download Lifer here: https://lockjawrecords.bandcamp.com/album/lifer
Like Sombulance here: https://www.facebook.com/sombulance/
This review was written by Colin Clark.