REVIEW: SHVPES - GREATER THAN
Birmingham's SHVPES have been making huge waves since rebranding from their previous moniker Cytota and embracing a fresher sound which was excellently demonstrated on their debut album 'Pain, Joy, Ecstasy, Despair' back in 2016.
Their follow up, 'Greater Than', released on 9 November 2018 via Spinefarm Records, is an exploration of the darker and more difficult side of life. Having thoroughly enjoyed their debut offering, I had high hopes...so I pressed play praying I would not be disappointed...
Fortunately, I wasn't at all. In fact, I was even more impressed than with their debut. Musically speaking, much of the album is in the same vein of what we've previously heard from SHVPES; that great While She Sleeps meets Rage Against The Machine songwriting but, overall, far more mature.
The ever charismatic vocalist Griffin Dickinson is more confident in his ability and delivery this time around, switching between screaming, biting anger ('Someone Else') to soaring choruses ('Undertones' and 'Afterlife') and laid back, almost trap-influenced rapping ('Two Wrongs, No Rights' and 'I'm Stuck').
Those latter rap-dominated tracks are a total "out-of-genre" experience for any listener already familiar with the band. They do away entirely with the metal and hardcore conventions the band usually employ in favour of jazzy undertones and American hip-hop influenced production. Whilst this may be a cause for consternation by some, I'm personally very happy to see SHVPES taking some risks and broadening their style. I'd go as far as saying that the tracks serve as a great palate cleanser.
SHVPES - AFTERLIFE (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
During its heavier moments, the rest of the band demonstrate their musical abilities with machine-precise riffs and huge grooves providing the foundations for 'Greater Than'. We are even treated to a tasty feature on 'Rain' from none other than Matt Heafy of Trivium. Admittedly it's a relatively minor feature but nothing short of stellar from the man himself.
A special mention must also go to the brilliant female backing vocalist who contributes to several tracks on the album. It adds a rich, soulful and incredibly elastic element.
'Greater Than' is another strong release from a band who are already poised to take over the UK underground and soar to greater heights. It's rare to see a band as young as this get it so right on the second release, yet somehow they have maintained the SHVPES we already know and love whilst pushing the band forwards. It's perhaps a sign of what's to come on their future releases.
All in all, this looks set to be one of my favourite albums of 2018.
Words by Robert Percy
ROCKODILE RATING - 10/10