caution:thieves, moving forward.
As a Scot, it's so cool to see loads of great music coming out of Australia right now. Over the last year or so, I’ve been blown away by Pagan’s furious 'Black Wash' LP, captured by the emo-punk hooks of Press Club’s 'Late Teens', and as a result of now writing for KYS, I was recently pulled into the gorgeous brutality of Sleep Talk’s 'Everything in Colour.' So what’s next for my journey through Australia’s alternative music scene of late? 'The Blueprint For Moving Forward', the newest EP by Melbourne’s caution:thieves.
So, what do caution:thieves really sound like then? Well, they sound like a lot of things actually! Influences run the gamut from Alexisonfire, Circa Survive, and Thrice, to even some Misery Signals and Alice In Chains as well. There's a lot of variety too, not just in the artists and styles these guys love to share their passion for in their music, but there's also some real riff diversity too.
For opener 'The New Colossus', the band go full-on Misery Signals with battering ram drums, scowling riffs, acerbic yet tuneful screams and soaring melodic vocal sections that lead into devastating mosh calls. The line “These days are much brighter without you around/we know what goes up MUST COME DOWN” drops into a hugely satisfying breakdown section. There really is nothing quite as cathartic as screaming about old shattered relationships (of any sort.) Second song, 'Standing Room', storms in with a strutting hard-rock riff, quickly descending into a moody, melodic verse, reminiscent of your Glassjaw's or your At The Drive In's; two clear influences for this group as well. And that massive vocal hook of “still trying to remedy a sickness without a cure” is a guaranteed, heartfelt ear-worm, adding to the underlying lyrical tone of supporting a loved one through trying times.
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'Bitter Living' further blends that metalcore aesthetic from 'The New Colossus' with pricklier leads and solos and an emotive alt-rock verse that drops into an uplifting, anthemic hard rock chorus: “and I’m not giving up, I know that you’ll make it through”. All bolstered by throat-shredding backing screams too. caution:thieves push their sound even further on 'Daggers for Teeth,' breaking out an Alice In Chains-esque chug, with the sort of decaying groove you’d expect on an album like 'Dirt,' layered with more melodic and uplifting radio-ready rock vocals asserting “this time I’m doing it for me/cause doing it for you led me nowhere/this time I’ll make it right and you’ll see”. The recurring “I hope it hurts to speak with those daggers for teeth” and the chanted “I won’t change for the words that you say” also reveal a scathing indictment towards any and all spiteful critics; that the band are doing it for themselves and no one else. It's easily my personal favourite track on the EP!
The opening of 'Somewhere Bright' is promising rocket-fuel for fans of Funeral For A Friend or Thrice, what with its old school rhythmic bounce, scattered riffing and driving drums. Unfortunately, the chorus is a little weaker, with the hooks not quite catching on for me personally, and with the vocals being a touch grating. Though, the backing choir coming in during the finale is a nice touch.
Generally, I do think the vocals on this EP are quite good. Nicholas Simonsen brings the right mix of melody, grit and screaming to each song and the lyrics are heartfelt and emotionally hard-hitting; they're his words, no one else's. It's so honest. Occasionally though, he goes too far with distracting vocal embellishments and some of the “ooh-ooh’s” and “aye-ee-aye’s” can feel a little forced and unnecessary, and I’d like to see that reigned in on future releases. I don’t want to sound like I’m speaking through daggers of teeth myself, as you'll probably get used to these moments and even find yourself emulating them. (Yes, that happened to me.)
Oddly enough, and in another musical left turn, the EP's final track 'The Blueprint' - basically an acoustic ballad but with clean, twanging electric guitars in their place underneath his vocals - is where you might expect these "embellishments" to go off the rails. In reality, the vocals on 'The Blueprint' are actually quite measured, resulting in a beautiful and emotional closing track about tackling your demons through the strength and help of others around you. So credit where it's due to Nicholas for that wonderful performance.
Whilst caution:thieves' genre-mashing sound isn't wholly original or that groundbreaking, this new batch of songs are decent, pack a hefty emotional punch and come with plenty of memorable moments too; musically, vocally and lyrically. Whilst the vocals and lyricism from frontman Nicholas Simonsen are typically strong, some may be put off by his over-embellished lines. But even then, that certainly shouldn’t or won't ruin what is overall a solid experience from a budding band. Despite a few little niggles, 'The Blueprint For Moving Forward' has left me with a great sense of excitement for the future of caution:thieves; just like any good EP should do. If you’re into big riffs, breakdowns, sweeping melodies, lots of feels, and even some hard rock swagger, then you should definitely check out caution:thieves' latest work.
The New Colossus
Daggers for Teeth
'The Blueprint for Moving Forward' is out now: