Review Summary: Potential, fully realised.
Hailing from Luxembourg, post hardcore/indie rock band Mutiny on the Bounty burst onto the scene in 2009 with their debut effort ‘Danger Mouth’; an energetic, if unfocused affair. Nevertheless, it demonstrated enough technical prowess and solid song writing ability to suggest that big things were likely to come from the European rockers. On their debut, both ‘Call me Cheesus!’ and ‘Continents’ displayed a band with bags of potential, however the end of the album saw a slight drop in quality maiming its overall impact. The biggest question then, going into their second full length release ‘Trials’, is whether they can fulfil that potential, the answer is a resounding yes.
Comparisons to At the Drive-In, The Fall of Troy, and Minus the Bear are fairly inevitable given the frantic guitar driven nature of the music, even more so given that the band openly embrace these comparisons, and draw influence from them. Echoes of the aforementioned bands are noticeable particularly in the instrumental tracks that are peppered throughout the album, where guitarists Pzey and Clem are let loose to showcase their talents with mathy riffs and varying time signatures aplenty. Given the similarities to the above ‘heavyweights’ then, Mutiny on the Bounty’s relative obscurity is somewhat of a mystery. After ‘Trials’ however, I suspect they will join the aforementioned benchmarks instead of aspiring to them.
After a short instrumental build up, first real track ‘North Korea’ is a lesson in energetic post rock. Between them; Adebisi Shank, And So I Watch You From Afar, and Maybeshewill set the bar very high, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to say ‘North Korea’ is as good a song as any of the aforementioned bands has penned. No, seriously. The main riff that begins the song is utilized as the chorus, and is so bright and energetic when it’s unleashed, that it’s difficult not be blown away. Proving that ‘North Korea’ was no fluke however, second instrumental song ‘Myanmar’ is just as good as the first. Where grandiose lead guitar work took precedent on the former, incredible cymbal work by relentless drummer Falcon shines on the latter. There can be few question marks surrounding the individual band member's technical competency.
A more polished production and an improved vocal performance are two noticeable strengths Mutiny on the Bounty’s sophomore album possesses over their debut effort. The pure energy of the band is more efficiently conveyed and captured on ‘Trials’. Where previously certain moments felt a little hollow and flat on ‘Danger Mouth’, a fuller more accomplished sound is achieved, especially in the periods of build up and respite. A smoother vocal delivery is adopted throughout ‘Trials’, demonstrating a departure from the harsh shouted vocals which justifiably conjured images of At the Drive-In. Usually when a band deviates from harsh vocals, the music follows suit and takes a different, softer approach. Fortunately, this convention is ignored and avoided here. The drums are as slick as ever, the bass as audible and commanding, and the guitar work as playful and frenzied.
Given that the main downfall suffered by the first album ‘Danger Mouth’ was due to the drop in quality at the albums climax, the two 6 minute album closers naturally harboured apprehension. Fortunately, penultimate track ‘Shifting Paradigms’ is an album highlight, featuring a palm muted riff and probably the albums most contagious chorus. The final minute sees a mathy build up accompanied by fuzzy yet powerful drumming, which fades to static before transitioning smoothly into album closer ‘Mapping the Universe’. Completing the trio of instrumental efforts, ‘Mapping the Universe’ begins in similar fashion to its predecessors, using the lead riff as the chorus. The final 2 minutes see a departure from this riff as a slow but intense build up guides us to the albums apex, and although it’s a more than solid effort, it only ever flirts with becoming spectacular.
With ‘Trials’, Mutiny on the Bounty iron out the flaws that stopped ‘Danger Mouth’ from becoming an excellent album. Improvements in vocal delivery, production, and solid, varied song structures make this an interesting, rewarding listen. The salient point however, is that the quality of song writing is maintained from start to finish this time around. With their sophomore effort, Mutiny on the Bounty have fully realised their potential, and have crafted a truly superb album.