LABEL: BASICK RECORDS
WORDS: JACK MOBLEY
Exeter based Napoleon are taking pigeonholes and smashing them into oblivion. Their music is a mind-bending blend of progressive-metalcore with elements of melodic-hardcore draped in math-based riffs all with an energy and a vibe that is reminiscent of the ‘easycore’ bands like Four Year Strong and Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! Since forming in 2011 the band have released two EPs and their debut album, Newborn Mind, which showcased their potential. Napoleon haven’t messed around as two years on from their debut, they have come back with their sophomore effort, Epiphany. A record that builds on that potential with a collection of catchy, technically impressive riffs and a vocal performance that stands out among all the beautiful chaos that the rest of the band build.
This ADHD-like album has you bouncing from verse to chorus with numerous atmospheres created within a song. From high end technical guitar solos and bridges to the crunching, almost djent-like breakdowns that are masterfully orchestrated from the bass and drums, Jacob Brelsford and James Mendoza respectfully. All the while guitarist, Sam Osburn, takes every idea of a lick, solo or riff and crams it into the 45-minute album. Wesley Thompson’s vocal is incredibly powerful that has very similar similarities to Sam Carter of Architects.
“…technically impressive riffs and a vocal performance that stands out among all the beautiful chaos that the rest of the band build. “
Opener, ‘Godspeed’ instantly draws the listener in with a chaotic stop-start riff that nicely introduces the sonic elements that can be expected. ‘Above & Below’ showcases a range of techniques with sliding, tapping, stabbing on and off riffs which baffles the mind at times. The track, ‘Epiphany’ has a range of tones that could be associated with a heavy alternative rock band before escalating further and gaining intensity from each member as the track goes on. Lead single ‘Ignite’ is the most well written song on the album with the cohesive sound, solid structure and the right amount of chaos thrown into the mix to serve the song rather than being technical and disordered for the sake of it, which can hinder most progressive bands.
Funky ‘Decay to Create’ allows the heavy bass to come to the fore, which twangs with a vengeance, while the whirling and winding guitar compliments with the high tone. The vocal is lost during the quiet moments as you are glued to the instrumental to find out where it might lead next. Whereas ‘Fantasist’ throws it straight back to Thompson as the emphasis on ‘To my crescendo there’s beauty in the struggle, I’ll go where the wind blows’ bellows in a shirt-tugging emotive manner.
“a record that builds on what came before. This is a band could unify a lot of fan bases”
‘Dream Sequence’ has the stop-start riffs return in the opening section as a beautiful solo is layered over the top. The slower tempo is a welcome change and is appropriate for the closer of the album. Thompson is giving chance to shine through with the instrumentation being slightly toned down that tails off as it transforms into a clam string and horns section. The gorgeous classical composition works in unison with the guitar reprise that gives a real sense of ending and fulfillment.
Sometimes a bit too chaotic and haphazard, instrumentally and missing the point of the song by being all over the place, Epiphany is a record that builds on what came before. This is a band could unify a lot of fan bases and that in of itself is extremely difficult to do but Napoleon have taken one step closer in being that band. Creating a record that has a bit of everything with a vast combination of sounds: elements of prog, hardcore, melody, metal, djent with a prominent emphasis on Osburn’s technical wizardry.
‘Epiphany’ by Napoleon is out now via Basick Records.
FFO: ARCHITECTS, OCEANS ATE ALASKA, CHUNK! NO CAPTAIN CHUNK!