Review Summary: Solid post-hardcore with a decidedly English flavour.
Lower Than Atlantis are a post-hardcore outfit from Watford, England. If you’re not from the UK then you probably won’t have heard of Watford, for the simple reason that it’s effectively a space on the map that someone decided to name. Its past contributions to local or international cultural landscapes have included…well, nothing. Far Q
, the debut full length and second release from Lower Than Atlantis seems all the more remarkable, then; because the obvious talent and delightful creativity on display here elevate the band from mere musicians to artists
. Hold on to your hats Watford, because who knows what’s happening.
Lower Than Atlantis’ first EP, Bretton
, was a perfectly respectable chunk of melodic hardcore that successfully managed to avoid almost everyone’s radar. The attention to detail and vigour that infused that record promised great things for the future, however, and Far Q
is the fulfilment of that promise. The music is still energetic, but with a greater focus upon melody that strengthens rather than dilutes the band’s sound. Spiky riffs and dissonant chords are whipped along and carried by the strong rhythm section; and even though there’s no obvious technical wizardry on show, the songs are complex and detailed enough to remain fresh throughout repeat listens. This also enables Lower Than Atlantis to shift the tone and pace of the record in an interesting but seemingly organic manner; Far Q
flows from the brisk and [s]punky hardcore of ‘B.O.R.E.D’ to the stripped down (oh, what the hell) ballad of ‘Mike Duce’s Symphony No.11 In D Minor’ and does it all exceedingly well.
The lyrical content of the record is, for me at least, the biggest draw; but it’s also the part of Far Q
that seems most likely to divide opinion. They are utterly pared down, at times resorting to the simple rhyme schemes of classic punk; but they are filled with astute and evocative flashes of character that make it hard not to identify with the problems these guys have faced. These are tales of penniless young guys living in a grey hole in a grey country already well into its decline. It’s to Mike Duce’s credit that he can sing about things as low key as losing his music collection off his laptop (‘Taping Songs Off the Radio’) and make it sound genuinely poignant. It helps that he is such an assured vocalist, flitting between a strong singing voice and a credible aggressive vocal that adds power to the music without reducing the lyrics to an indecipherable mass. All in all, Far Q
, like its predecessor, makes some pretty big promises for the future, and if they can continue grow Lower Than Atlantis might become something truly special. At the moment, though, they are merely brilliant. For any fan of character driven music, post-hardcore or any kind of punk rock, Far Q
might just be the grimy little gem you’ve been looking for.
Taping Songs Off the Radio
Face Full of Scars