Review Summary: A brilliant Indie-Rock debut by a band ten times more confident than most at this stage in their career.
For the sake of simplicity I am going to refer to Max Raptor as a rock band. They're actually a somewhere between hardcore and indie with a mixture of heavy riffs and pounding drums with expressive, vivid vocals and done with a great amount of capability which makes this release great fun from start to finish, with song-writing that while based around those two previously mentioned elements provides enough variety to keep things consistently interesting.
The vocals on the album are by far one of the strongest things the band has to offer, as the diversity from song to song is brilliant. On opener The King Is Dead, which starts with an awesome gritty bass intro before some fast-paced riffs kick in features some of the more forceful vocals with the chorus featuring some almost punky vocals even though it is accompanied by a much less challenging octave guitar riff. The build up near the end of the song with the line 'cool clam winter scene' (admittedly not a line you would really associate with a heavy build up) starts from almost a whisper and ends up being screamed, and it sounds really great showing that the bands singer is very much capable of harsher vocal styles. But the next two songs embrace a sound much more suggesting of indie with the first half of Beasts being a particularly good example of this, a song that could well pass for one played by a band with much less spit and bile than this. There are also a lot of gang vocals on the album, which vary from more hardcore shouts on The King Is Dead and Obey The Whips both employing the technique for the chorus, to cleaner 'woahs', which can be found on The Great On Good. The chorus to Patron Saint (Of Nothing) is done entirely with gang vocals, which sounds great. It helps that whatever type of vocals are employed they are always guided by some pretty compelling hooks, especially on Carolina which even has some Falsetto in the chorus but is overall just really good fun.
Guitar is obviously one of the focus points on the album so it is lucky that is good throughout. Some of the guitar work is very suggestive of another British band, Black Spiders, with licks that can only be referred to as rock n' roll, this is the kind of riff that opens the album on The King Of Dead and is lively and raucous, presumably sounding colossal in the live environment. Some of the guitar work is less easy to compare to other bands however with one of the riffs in Patron Saint ...., (a title which works a great deal better in the context of the song) where the riff is too finicky and tight to really fit into that genre and wouldn't sound that out of place in mathcore if they didn't have the vocals singing 'we are the children and were already dead' over it. The riff on the bridge of the song Carolina is also really stellar having an articulate groove to it which is helped along by clapping. Its not just distortion though, as although the guitars are generally covered in a fare amount of fuzz there are cleaner moments as on the middle eight section of The Great And Good which uses a reverb soaked sharp tone that serves the section after it better than itself thanks to the fact it makes the following riff twice as heavy sounding. Beasts uses a fairly clean guitar intro to give one of the much less crushing moments with vocals singing 'It's not the fact that he's out of time/ its the fact that he's wasted mine'. Lyrics definitely stand out on the album as because the album does not completely embrace rock and its often over the top themes but incorporates an effective down to earth indie as well which lets the vocals walk a good line between epic and sobering.
Drumming on the album is pretty decent as well, providing a strong backbone for the band while throwing in a few embellishments here and there, with some of the drumming on Obey The Whips and Beasts being pretty damn good. None of the drumming is particularly extravagant but it does not necessarily need to be with this kind of music as long as it keeps pushing the songs forward and bridges the riffs together it has done it job well. Production on the record is powerful, the instruments complimenting each other with none of them coming across as too overpowering, the vocals cutting through suitably. Admittedly compared to some others this would not be too challenging of an album to produce as it owes a lot of its strength too the slightly lo-fi punky feel and simplicity and if the band begin to get more traction and become more popular I hope they do not deviate from this sound too far, but there are few interesting pieces of production. In Beasts there is an interesting moment where the vocals become incredibly low quality and though I do appreciate the change it is more interesting than it is effective. The most intriguing moment is on the finisher The Alarm that starts and ends with a brief piano intro that sounds pretty good but is completely different from the rest of the song. Probably the best thing about the production however is its approach in relation to the bass guitar as unlike so many other records it actually gives the bass guitar quite a lot of room of its own so bass fills like on the song The Alarm sound good and fit well.
Overall the only real reason the album didn't score higher than it did is because of the length as with only eight tracks and at about twenty-seven minutes long this is a very short album and pretty close to being classified as an EP, the band is not punky enough for this to be long enough. However, the band seems well capable of producing something truly brilliantly if they put out a longer record. If you have not yet given this album a listen, and it seems fairly likely that you have not, then do not hesitate to do so as it is a genuine blast to listen too from start to finish. Here's to Max Raptor crafting more songs in the future, and to those songs being just as good as these ones.