Review Summary: Barney Hall
Max Raptor have slowly been building a name for themselves in the UK rock scene. Their debut release, “Portraits”, was well received with lead single ‘The King is Dead’ garnered a lot of airplay on alternative radio stations and the group have earned places on the bills of festivals such as Hevy Festival and the UK leg of the Vans Warped Tour, as well as accepting a successful fan campaign to perform in the bedroom of a fan (a certain Barney Hall) in 2011. Now they release a new full length in “Mother’s Ruin” and show some real intent to break out properly in the scene.
While it’s clear that this is a rock album it’s also evident that there is an element of hardcore influence in Max Raptor’s music. Opener ‘Back of a Barrel Wave’ is the perfect example of this, having a very dirty Gallows-esque tone to its guitars and all the aggression to match. Vocalist Wil Ray has a way with words and his vocals can switch rapidly between angry (including sometimes borderline screaming) to somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as well as having a strong performance in the slower track of the album, the very 90s sounding ‘Heavy Hearts’, and they always help to provide plenty of hooks that are certain to get the crowds singing along, with the catchy ‘Taming of the Shrewd’ and single ‘England Breathes’ (which has a very strong Lower Than Atlantis vibe which carries on throughout the album) showing some very obvious singalong moments, in particular with the use of gang vocals in ‘England Breathes’. Gang vocals play a strong role in this album but they don’t seem at all out of place, unlike in various hardcore and metal albums that have been released in recent times, where they may not be used quite as much yet still feel overused. That is not the case in this album.
One drawback that one may spot in Max Raptor’s music is that it doesn’t really do much to provide anything new to the Britrock sound. The hooks are there, the vocals unashamedly have an incredibly English demeanour and the structures are pretty basic. Although it’s nothing particularly original Max Raptor still do what they do and do it well. The guitars are pretty creative and share the spotlight pretty well with Wil Ray’s singing and the bass is plenty audible in the mix, providing a gentle rumble to accompany the hook-laden riffs, for example, in the title track ‘Mother’s Ruin’.
Overall this is a great first full length from the group. It’s nothing new but it’s a band that’s doing what they want to do and not letting their music get dragged down by trying too hard to be different. If you like your British rock music in the vein of Lower Than Atlantis, finding a nice balance between hardcore aggression and Britpop melodies, then this is definitely worth checking out.