Travel Down London Road With Modestep [Album Review]
It’s been two years since The UK band Modestep released an album. A long time waiting, the electronic band spent some time away to tighten up their sound and produce the music they wanted. Their latest album London Road has taken everything we know about their sound and repeatedly punched it in the face until it was barely recognizable. It was a long time for fans, but the pay-off is one of the most unrelenting, highly energetic, unabashedly proud returns to the public eye. From track one you can feel the culmination of Modestep’s pride, determination, and hard work put in over the last two years. I can’t say I’ve recently heard a release so ready to give fans everything they wanted and more. There is an immense range of all that dirty, grimey, heavy, bassy, music we love accentuated with that harsh Modestep flair. Covering Dubstep, DnB, Garage, Reggae, Metal and more, it is safe to say there is just as much for the Metal fan as there is for the Dubstep fan.
If you are going to reinvent your sound you definitely want to do so in the most legendary way possible. Getting Funtcase on board your opening track is one way, and getting Alan Ford, “Bricktop” of Snatch fame to do the voice over, is the other. “Damien” utilizes both ways, and yes, it will blow your mind. I admit I am a huge lover of mixing dubstep, heavy basslines and orchestral pieces together. Other than free food, it’s the easiest way to my heart. The combination of these three powerhouses gave me goosebumps. It is a merciless track that leaves you wanting more and as luck would have it, the rest of the album provides.
A hybrid sound hard to come by. “Machines” mixes heavy electronic beats with rock-centric guitar work and intense vocals. It works to the capacity that it does because this is the nucleus of the band, the cohesiveness of what each individual artist brings to the collective whole. “Machines” was one of the first singles released and they couldn’t have chosen a better track to set the bar for what listeners can expect. This is powerful, forward-thinking music that assaults you from all sides. The lyrics point out the obvious dissonance we humans have in this world, while the grinding gear noises and seething guitar licks emphasize the machine-work of our day to day doldrums. It’s Brave New World for the 21st century.
“Feel Alive” was certainly one of the more surprising tracks on the album. Compared to the rest of the album it is a rock anthem. Don’t spend anytime looking for drops or the typical Modestep sound the first album has built, this is straight up next level rock. When Josh Modestep starts wailing, “All my life, I’ve felt trapped by these walls,” he goes about creating this intimate Berlin Wall of expectation that many artists go through. The confines set by industry standard vs what the artist is capable of creating without the pressure to make money. When the track hits its climax, they tear down that wall with no remorse. It’s a genre-bending whirlwind of force that cannot be silenced.
“Snake” was the first taste of the new Modestep, released back in January. The track had that Pendulum flavor associated with live instrumentation and electronic elements, which caused fans to panic. But fear not, Modestep quelches that vibe in the latter half. Hearty guitar work, pounding drums, blazing Drum & Bass tempo, and identifiable lyrics take “Snake” into a sound of its own. I think that is what is most important to note, while artists can share a sound, what really shows proof of evolution is taking that next step.
“Seams” is bursting with high-octane energy. This track is the audio equivalent of being strapped down to a moving truck of speakers a-la the Doof Warrior in Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s exciting to hear more groups put out some break neck tracks that are seemingly over as soon as they start. The production on “Seams” really brings out the musicality that Modestep is known for. Stylized and clean, you can hear each element of the track build upon the last until it screeches to a halt. This was a personal favorite from the album, really gets your head banging.
Circles feat. Skindred
What do you get when you combine two powerhouses of sound into one song? You get “Circles,” and “Circles” is nitrous. Featuring the Reggae/Metal fusion of Skindred, “Circles” doesn’t just stand out on the album, it explodes. Anyone who caught the Skindred bug in 2002 with the release of Babylon, will definitely re-experience the first time they heard anything from the band. Super aggressive from start to end, “Circles” will definitely be the track that get’s everyone in the pit at festivals.
These are just a few of the killer tracks on London Road. The band has really put their heart into this effort and it shows. The overarching theme of the album is not diminished by hearing songs out of order or at random, but a single play through is certainly worth your time and money. This is easily the hardest album I’ve heard all year and it is going to be difficult to top. If you crave insane beats and are a fan of bands evolving, Modestep’s London Road is the next album you should own.
Get London Road here: po.st/moLDNRD
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