ARTIST: SOMBULANCE

TITLE: LIFER

LABEL: LOCKJAW RECORDS

RATING: 7/10

Portsmouth and Southsea skatepunkers Sombulance have recently released their first EP in seven years, Lifer. It’s a six-track, fast paced journey that gives little let up and offers great promise for the band’s future and their (hopefully) forthcoming follow up EP or album.

Opening up with, The Articulation of Afterthoughts, the entire EP is pretty explosive from start to finish and doesn’t give the listener much room to breathe. The guitars, expertly delivered by Ant Harrison and Will Pearce respectively, are urgent, bright and spiky, offering some beautifully catchy, cascading licks and the occasional adrenaline fuelled solo, backed up by Chris Earle’s solid bass and Marc Morey’s thundering drums and snappy, punchy snare. The whole thing combined, with Dean Harwood’s gritty, passionate vocal delivery over the top, makes for some great driving music, or indeed, skating music, making you feel as though you can take on the world – even if it’s against you – and win.

The repeated chorus “we can’t go back” on Lessons Lost gives echoes of Taking Back Sunday, perhaps coincidentally, perhaps as a type of homage, but there’s certainly a lot of those mid 2000s bands that seem to be influences here on the EP, especially on something like Here’s To Liberation. It’s one of the slightly slower tracks, but has shades of early Thrice material and a slightly emo/post-hardcore vibe.

Title track, Lifer, is one of the more serious songs in terms of subject matter, touching on deep regret and having to live with the consequences of bad decisions, and followed by Downfall and Better Left Behind, it’s not exactly a happy album lyrically if you look beneath the surface, Downfall even playing around with minor notes and dissonance to great effect.

There’s so many influences here that it becomes impossible to pick out just one or two, but if you’re a fan of Rise Against, At The Drive-In, The Get Up Kids, or The Menzingers, then you’re maybe getting in the right zone for the kind of music Sombulance are cooking up. That’s not to say they aren’t doing their own thing with it. It’s actually great to hear a band like Sombulance, who typically have a very US influenced sound, embrace their UK roots and sing in their own accents instead of trying to pull off some kind of corny Billie Joe Armstrong impression. Lead vocalist Dean Harwood certainly seems to be adept at angsty, aggro punk delivery, sounding both passionate and effortless at the same time, the lyrics tripping off his tongue like he’s lived every painful moment – broken hearts, lost love, mental health – it’s all covered in one way or another here on Lifer.

After their successful show at Punk Rock Holiday in Slovenia recently, and with this solid offering, it’s great to know these guys are now safely back in the driving seat after their break, and we can expect to hear some more good music from them in the future.

WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON

You can listen to Lifer here:

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