28 Oct 2020
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Pale Flag - EP Review: Emergence

25 Jul 2019 // A review by Kris Raven

Auckland’s Pale Flag are about to release their debut EP Emergence, which is aptly named considering their already stacked gigging CV. Having released their brutal first single In This Moment, their growing fan base can expect to hear 6 brand new heavy af bangers. For a debut EP they are coming out the gate strong.

Formed in 2018, Pale Flag has hit the ground running, building up a reputation of being one of the busiest bands around by playing countless shows a month since their formation and supporting some impressive heavyweight artists both internationally and locally.

Engineered and mixed by local legend, drummer and producer Dave Rhodes (Stylus/Static Era), Pale Flag's new EP offers a familiar yet still exciting collection of songs that sit in amongst the realms of the metalcore/deathcore crossover, with blends of 2000’s-era core bands as well as newer and progressive elements seen in the scene currently. While I found the music side of things were a lot of more metalcore focused, vocally Issac Drakeley takes us on a crash course of various metal screaming styles which are incredibly impressive, his presence throughout this album is intense, fierce and dominating.

Now onto the songs;

First track up is The Storm. A quick fade into the Intro riff which feels a little nu metal with the groove and simplicity, before breaking into half time feels. Vocally there is a mix of gutterals and some very strong and clear screaming in the chorus sections. The song has a fairly straight solid core feel, rolling double kicks and of course some sweet breakdowns. A strong opener, the chorus has a super catchy melodic tapping guitar lead that amps up the feel of the song with the vocals moving into a more melodic scream. The song reminds me of early Parkway Drive's Killing with a Smile era (which is a good thing!) combining chugs, sickening leads from guitarists Jack Queenin and Liam Donald and brutal vocals. Off to a sweet start!

The second track Uprising's opening riff is familiar, and once the band drops in, it's all head banging from here. This one has some groove to it as well, a bit of swing with the way the guitar riff moves with the drums, I find throughout the six tracks the band seem comfortable with the half time pace which works in making the songs have more impact when they increase the bpm. Once the second verse drops, drummer Cody Johnson’s double kicks are doing double time and the lead guitar is frantically pacing the fretboard with some nice melodic flourishes. Then there’s the breakdown and some epic stretched gutterals. There is a definite 2000’s metalcore vibe to the music with the vocals having a more death metal approach. It’s taking the familiar and mixing it up a little which is a nice approach to these genres.

Confined is an interesting one, the initial vocal passage following the lead guitar, musically it reminds me a little of metal legends Shadows Fall. The song keeps coming back to the opening guitar riff and working various speeds around it including Johnson introducing some blast beats in the third section of the song, creating a more frantic sound over that underlying lead and riff. This one also has less of a systematic approach to the standard song-writing structure and is more a series of pieces interwoven, really showing the bands writing talents.

Musically Breaking the Cage is just a hardcore metal workout, it's straight to the point in approach. It almost has a Hatebreed vibe to it but with Drakley's deeper growls setting the tone. Halfway through the song it goes full breakdown, I can see this being a crowd pleaser for the moshing inclined. After a small break with the drums speeding up the proceedings, all comes to a halt for the final, slow and low breakdown with Drakley’s growls summoning the demon.  

Is the intro to Demise the heaviest part section on the album? Possibly so. The guitar bend reminds me of progressive math metallers Car Bomb, it's like a sludgy progressive metal breakdown, super low, super heavy, with the ultra-deep growls screeching “D E M I SE”  layered over the top, it's great. This song has some really cool parts and the vocal scream styles change throughout as the band are joined by Silent Torture vocalist Liam Hand, lending his pig squeals and low low lows to the mix. There's a sweet selection of riffs throughout, lots of stops and starts. The middle section has an almost snake charmer feel to it. Then the outro! Is this the heaviest part on the album? A massive doomy breakdown ensues.

Sanctuary would be my favourite song on the EP. Kicking in with a solid drum fill, it follows on from Demise with more a progressive tinge, some really creative lead and rhythm guitar interplay with the rhythmic opening section reminding me of early Killswitch Engage with the chug rhythm and a strong melodic lead wailing over the top. The guitar and vocal hook is a standout in the chorus, with a very epic feel, like a battle theme, melodic and punchy. And in true style the song rounds out the finale with a chunky breakdown as it should.

For a debut release, Pale Flag have certainly delivered a well-crafted and executed package and these songs are born to be played live and for people to mosh and thrown down to. The production felt more authentic and less cookie cutter in a genre full of machine like double kicks and computerized guitar tones. This is a solid effort and I look forward to seeing how they progress musically. Be sure to get out and support them, support local music, the scene, the venues and enjoy!

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Pale Flag

Pale Flag is a heavy band from Auckland, New Zealand formed in 2018.

Known for their high energy live show, Pale Flag plays hard hitting music aimed to get the crowd moshing.

In the band's short history they've already toured throughout the country with several notable local and international acts such as Rings of Saturn, Alpha Wolf, Vulvodynia, Antagonist A.D., Organectomy, Depths, Xile, and many others.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Pale Flag

Releases

Emergence
Year: 2019
Type: EP

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