Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Album Review: Roach by Aerial Salad

Ever since I heard Manchester based punks Aerial Salad's last single, Check My Mind, I've been waiting impatiently for their debut album Roach to be released. Check My Mind was a great song and my anticipation for Roach being a fantastic record was extremely high. Then it was released and before I had a chance to hear it I'd read a ton of comments about just how good it was. Now I am FINALLY getting round to giving it a listen and am fastened into my seat tight ready to be blown away.

Roach begins with the song Habits And Problems. The thing that struck me on the first listen to the song was the similarity to Gnarwolves song, Smoking Kills. I don't mind this though as it really pulled me into the song and had me listening intently immediately. This is what you want from an opening song. If you haven't heard Aerial Salad before they play a style of pop punk influenced by 1990s Green Day. Habits And Problems is about having to work weekends and the problems that this creates in your life. Up next is Leave Me Alone. This song begins with a high amount of intensity with singer Jamie Munro screaming out the opening vocals basically acappella style. The track is just a short one minute and twenty-two seconds long but certainly packs one hell of a wallop. Listening to the song, it's as if Nirvana and Green Day somehow mated and Aerial Salad was the result. The third song is named Headspace. I really love that, even though we are only three songs deep into a twelve track album, there is so much variety in the sound but you can still tell you are listening to Aerial Salad. Habits And Problems is more of a pop punk track and Leave Me Alone sees the band lean towards a grunge influence. Headspace has more of a straight forward punk rock sound. The guitars are fantastic in the simplicity and Jamie's punch vocal attack adds so much attitude to the song.

The fourth song, Conservative Thinking, continues the theme of different styles with some ska punk. I must admit I wasn't expecting some ska upstrokes on Roach but I'm very pleased to hear them. Aerial Salad get political on the track, venting their anger towards the Conservative government that is currently in place in the UK. Switching from that ska verse to a big punk chorus adds some extra emotion to the track to help Aerial Salad really force their message home. 97 is a sadder song about struggling with mental health and desperately wanting somebody to understand what you're going through. The opening lyric of "I've Just Told My Mum I'm Gonna Kill Myself" immediately grabs you - it's so sad and shocking but you can't help but listen more. This is one of the album's slower and more melodic songs, which works perfectly given what the song is all about. Worst Case Ontario for me is one of the stand out tracks on Roach, reverting back to the Lookout Records era pop punk sound which is what I think Aerial Salad do best. The song is superbly catchy from the outset and stuffed with hooks. The long introduction to the song does such a fantastic job of building the song up before the vocals come smashing in. You get to the point where you feel like gasping with anticipation before things really get going and you are generously rewarded once they do. Top stuff lads.

The seventh song on Roach is the aforementioned Check Your Mind. This is another slower and more melodic number that really allows the drums and bass to shine. Check Your Mind is about feeling crippled by your mental health problems, wanting to make a change to your life but not being able to get out of the place you are in. I love how they again slowed things down somewhat for this emotional and important song. I believe it's a song that so many people listening could easily relate to. It's great that there are bands putting out songs like this and talking about mental health more and more. The opening lyrics to the following song, Dunhills, are great and again instantly relatable. The song starts with the lines "I Think About Society, I'm Struck By An Epiphany, What The Hell Are We Working For, Because It's Crossed My Mind, That Your Job Don't Pay And You, Get By Through Just Every Day, Living On What You Can Crawl." I'm sure everyone reading this has had the same thoughts. The song continues on with Jamie talking about starting a new life and following his own path and not one that is dictated to him. The vocal delivery in the next track, Throw It Away, is absolutely superb. It again grabs you immediately and is so full of energy. This is a song about the frustration in trying to help someone you care about but feeling pushed away.

On Alone Forever it sounds as if there is an extra sliver of venom in Jamie's vocals. Obviously the vocals take the majority of the attention in every song but on Alone Forever they really are the star of the show. The extra sliver of venom adds even more passion and energy into the song and makes it a high octane adventure throughout its duration. I'm sure you can work out what the song is about, feeling like you will be forever alone but wanting someone in your life that you can talk and share things with. This is another thing that anybody who has ever suffered with mental health problems can really relate to. The penultimate song on Roach is named Success. Success is a great power-pop song about finding achievements in activities that most people might find mundane and the meaning behind this. The sound of this song is so much fun and it a real toe tapper, it's almost impossible to remain still whilst listening to Success. I like that in a song. Staying still is boring. The first two lines of the chorus really stood out to me - "So We Bring Meaning To Our Own Success, Much More Important Than The Way We Dress." The meaning that I take from this is that where a big part of society puts a lot of stock into the clothes they wear, there are plenty of people who put more of themselves into achieving something they really struggle with. Last up is the song Patricroft. This is my favourite song on Roach. It's fast paced and again immediately has my attention with opening lyrics "Shut Down By Opinions Of Decisions That I Made, I'll Take Them To My Grave." Patricroft is about being in a small band and how it will always be difficult but will always be completely worth it. This is the perfect song to finish this fantastic album and I imagine will become the band's final song on their set list. This song really is Aerial Salad at their best!

So did Roach live up to all of my expectation and hype? In a word - yes. In five words - yes, it really bloody did! I've been working on doing my top ten albums of the year list in the past couple of weeks. I've been struggling and now this has really thrown a giant sized spanner in the works. Aerial Salad are a band that are clearly going to be the talk of the UK punk rock scene soon and, after listening to Roach many times now, I have to say it will be thoroughly deserved.

Stream and download Roach here: https://aerialsalad.bandcamp.com/album/roach

Like Aerial Salad here: https://www.facebook.com/aerialsaladband/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

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