27 May 2022

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Checaine - EP Review: Black River

13 Apr 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to catch Hamilton-based Checaine on the Auckland leg of the tour to promote the EP I am now listening to. I came away impressed that night and playing these five tracks remind me again of just why that was. Here we have a melodic hard rock band which is rooted in the Seventies who also bring in some more modern American influences and then combine them in a manner which is immediate yet also full of layers. With some music it is often easy to pick out the flashy bits, the cranked guitar or the singer and actually miss what is going on inside. Here, the very heart of Checaine’s sound, and the reason it works so well, is actually the bass. Why is that?

To put it simply, Chris is the person who holds it all together, underpinning the sound and melody which then allows the others to go off at tangents. Often the bassist is locked in with the drummer to provide a solid foundation, but here it is much more of a one-man operation which allows Joe to sometimes keep it tight, while at others he can be pounding around the kit or providing additional attacks which busies up the sound and provides them with a harder edge. This means he often ties in more with guitarist Regan than Chris, with the two of them working and bouncing off each other. Regan is often tying down the riff, but he also uses different sounds so that while the band is always heavy (and it is no surprise to see them playing gigs with After Forever), there is always real melody and he is also good at bringing the feeling of space into a section, then locking it right down at others so we get plenty of dynamic contrast. This use of contrast is one of the reasons the band can come across as crunchingly heavy while also being melodic.

Then at the front of course is Fraser, who is one of those singers who somehow can stand at the front of a monstrous outfit in full control and provide powerful vocals which are always melodic, while he also uses different styles and pitch to create different feelings and styles. There are five songs on this 23-minute-long EP, and each one is a force of nature, and very different to each other. Take the title cut for example, this sees Fraser using falsetto at times, powering in at others, a chorus and bridge which is guaranteed to get the crowd moving yet somehow it would also fit in on the radio. There are times when the guitars take a real backseat, then coming back in to provide the emphasis it needs as the song lifts. I enjoyed all the songs on here, and it is hard to pick a highlight, but possibly the closer Asleep At The Wheel needs a special mention just because it is so different to the rest of the set, with drum rolls which really push it forward. This is one of those songs where there is a lot going on from everyone involved and they blend together to make something quite special.

Overall, this is a great set and I look forward to catching them in concert again soon.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Checaine

Checaine are a melodic/progressive hard rock band from Hamilton. They bring powerful hooks to their songs and a progressive style that keeps the music evolving and exciting.

Formed in 2011 by Fraser Coombes (vocals) and Regan Aspden (guitar), they are now accompanied by an exciting line-up of talented members that add to the sound and live show performance Checaine have become known for.

The band have enjoyed great exposure through their new dynamic single Bring Me Down as heard on New Zealand's The Rock FM.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Checaine


Year: 2017
Type: EP
Turn The Stone
Year: 2014
Type: Album

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