Spectral, by the Brighton trio three-piece Kinship, is a classic example of pre-conceived notions coloring your perceptions, as the band describe themselves as an emo/punk band in the second sentence of their press release, before going on to mention melodic indie rock and hardcore.
I realize we're supposedly in the thralls of a ‘90s/early ‘00s emo revival with newfound re-appreciation of bands like Mineral and Braid, and lavish, deluxe vinyl re-issues of Olympia, Washington's Unwound, but I remain unconvinced. It is my journalistic duty, however, to get beyond my own biases and try and listen objectively while still being honest.
For the sake of argument, calling a rose by a different name to see how it smells, consider Kinship post-hardcore, mixed with elements of psychedelic metal as the band shares a sensibility of bands like Botch, Cave-In, with some Deafheaven windblown guitar sunspots, mixed with melodic indie elements; wavering, quavering vocals, beautiful delayed guitar, all held together by primeval, pummeling percussion.
This music kicks when it hits, like the sludgy menace of album opener of "Visions" but is also capable of beauty and sentimentality, like on "Sensory//Primal.” Basically, I like almost every detail and aspect of this recording. The drummer seriously slays, while the guitars pump out menace and tug the heartstrings simultaneously.
The good outweighs the negatives, neutralizing my biases - I just pretend the gang’s vocal 'OOH's are ghost pirates, rather than Tiger Army or Green Day knock-offs.
I really, really dislike the quavering emo vocal styles, and always have, since the day they set the airwaves on fire, in the early 2000s. But there has been an interplay between pop and punk since punk began, practically, with bands like The Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers, The Ramones, Bad Religion, et al. So if you like those bands and can imagine them paired with modern bands like Pelican or Russian Circles this might be your cup of tea.
In the meantime, I will work on getting over my fuddy-duddyism, as this short EP is quite well executed and ticks a number of my requisite boxes. So if you like good emo, pop punk or adventurous metal that is not afraid to be sweet and heartfelt this is for you.
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