21 Sep 2020
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Banks Arcade - EP Review: Fever Dreams

10 Jun 2020 // A review by Kris Raven

NZ/Aussie 5-piece Banks Arcade recently released their game changing second EP and follow up to their debut EP, 2018’s Endnote. A lot has changed for the band in three years, members have come and gone, a move across the ditch and an incredible evolution in their sound and focus. Led by guitarist and vocalist Joshua O'Donnell, Fever Dreams offers up an eccentric mix of musical flavours, taking us listeners on a whirlwind ride of emotionally charged, sometimes aggressive but very progressive 6-track ride. I found myself hearing influences and nods to other fine artists through the genre sphere and it made me want to shout once again, we (NZ) and Aussie have some of the finest musicians and bands in the world, at the forefront of painting our art on the music world.

Fever Dreams is great name for this sophomore effort, there is a dreamlike sound to the production, perhaps helped with the addition of sound designer Kenny Powerz (Danny Mcbride? Haha) . Opening track Wilt takes us through a variety of movements. The opening guitar groove, has a djent prog feel to it, with swing and swagger, it hits and it's punchy as hell. But just like that the tone shifts and the song moves into more pop territory with the vocal mix. Then it takes pace and the song has a dance hall feel. Bands like Enter Shikari are always phenomenal at doing this, when they mold several genres into one chaotic masterpiece and have your ears going on a joy ride. Hats off to Banks Arcade for achieving this. It's refreshing and unique.

I definitely found a lot through this album; they have such an open mind when it comes to song writing and how they approach it. There is a lot of pop sensibilities, certain trends have been used to create that pop vocal melody and mix, but with heavy guitars. Sleep Token comes to mind and I hear some of that tortured beautiful voice throughout Fever Dreams and O’Donnell’s incredibly versatile voice . Heavier songs like recent single Sick and Drown follow similar routes to Northlane’s latest offering Alien, it's heavy but experimental and adapting old and new sounds to create something a little different in an often-saturated market. Rat in particular takes me to Northlane's Mesmer album. Solid beats and guitar grooves. Full of stop/start double kick rolls with thick distorted bass being highlighted throughout. Then moments of technical prog metal flair, by far the heaviest song on the album with some Marcus Bridge inspired screams.

Songs like Firework, have an incredibly hooky chorus with the vocals passionately pulling you in, "Fireworks, they only love us when we burn" feel like they contain so much depth and commentary. Recent single Drown begins with a funky sampled drum pattern and the guitar wavering in the distance creates are very mesmerizing effect. Alluring lyrics "We are nothing but air" hit home in thoughts of humanity. Guitarists Jason Meadows and O’Donnell throughout all the tracks have created wavering layers of ambient guitars that then blend into breakdown inspired savage riffery, sometimes sitting in the front of the mix and at other times blending in the background soundscapes.

There are moments I wished the mix was a lot more bottom heavy but at the same time it works in their favour. It does not feel like the more traditional precise, thick, metalcore mix of their first EP or similar, so it has a unique standing point and adds an additional feel and flavour to the songs. The production reminded me a little of Jerry Finn's techniques on Blink 182’s self-titled album, where a lot of the songs were recorded in various rooms through different tools and techniques plus the addition of samplers with full band. It’s a little different and I think it adds to the fact that Banks Arcade are more than just a metalcore band.

Closing track Moonshine is my favourite track, it starts so chill but is heavy with attitude. The sampled intro sounds with the sombre to aggressive vocals, displaying O’Donnell’s vocals in their full element, built up by James Feekes' drum groove slowly moving the song along, popping and the vocals are move from calm to aggressive. I love the tremolo guitar during the chorus/bridge and the vocal melodies soar, again showing such a diverse vocal range.

The step up in song writing and the creativity throughout this album is impressive and inspiring. I commend this band for writing music out of the box and producing something that takes you through some many different portals. Be sure to follow them and let’s hope they tour NZ shores again soon.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

Releases

Fever Dreams
Year: 2020
Type: EP

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