Review Summary: Impressive.
Impressive. The first word that comes to mind upon hearing Crooks’ debut EP. The band, hailing from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK formed in 2010 before releasing their first EP early last year. Entitled “Nevermore” the albums four tracks convey a particularly powerful well-executed emotional message. The impressiveness stems from the fact that Crooks are a relatively new band that had next to zero musical ability prior to founding the band. “Nevermore” proves time and time again that what Crooks may have lacked in musical ability, they make up for with obvious talent.
“Nevermore” and the band itself often exhibit maturity beyond their years particularly in relation to the EP’s lyrical content. Avoiding the dreaded clichéd melodramatics occasionally found on hardcore albums, the lyrics convey a struggle with love and relationship. Now, although an admittedly simple and indeed common subject, Crooks consistently find a way to add beauty, lustre and a brooding sense of bleakness to the four track EP. Throughout all songs on “Nevermore” the band focuses upon hope but moreover the hopelessness of love, a message they vigorously convey through the consistent mention of snow, ice, seasonal cold and a seemingly ominous winter. One of the prime examples of this, a case where the lyrics work particularly well is in the EP’s second track, “A Worlds Away”, the band sings, “My words are cold now, now that you left here, And all your tales are told through the cracks in your soul, And I know I’m not safe at all. The seasons all change into one, and my concept of time has gone, I follow the sound of your footsteps to lead me away from here.” This concept and focus upon seasons helps to add another dimension to the lyrics and a continuingly consistent theme to all four tracks on “Nevermore”.
Vocals on “Nevermore” are also executed particularly well with duties being shared amongst three of the five members; Josh, Rob and Alex who all help to provide interesting variation. One particularly striking aspect that makes the EP so very appealing is the clean, melodic vocals that not only help contrast the screams/yells but also help to add a dimension of their own. This is simply because the screams are your typical yet enjoyable run-of-the-mill hardcore vocals where as the cleans are something else. Sung predominantly by designated vocalist Josh, they are exceptionally smooth, crisp and well-executed, not devoid of masculinity but, by the same token, not deeply bass to the point where you can’t hear yourself think. These cleans are what, in my opinion, really makes this band and they are particularly well exhibited through one passage in the song “Tired Eyes” where Josh harmoniously croons, “But I have cuts on my hands, And I don’t want to remember you as you are now to me”.
Instrumentally the band again excels but this time only to a basic point. The instrumentation is good for the bands requirements but only at a simple level. The drums are admittedly well performed yet, they are not anything exceptional. The guitars, likewise are well executed but very little throughout the four track EP does one get the feeling that either of the guitarists have stepped out of their comfort zones to attempt something new. However, this may, and hopefully will, come in time as the band grows both musically and as a group.
This EP ultimately shows that Crooks will become a successful and prolific melodic hardcore act in the next few years. The band already displays its obvious musical talent in this debut EP release, “Nevermore”, a fine release that should eventually garner them a deservedly larger fan base. I would recommend this EP to anyone that is an avid fan of the hardcore genre or simply interested in listening to what can only be described as some exceptional and ultimately very impressive melodic hardcore.