As you will have undoubtedly noticed today is Friday 13th. There’s a fair chance that if you’re seriously superstitious that you have bunked off work and spent the day under the duvet just to be on the safe side. In fact you’re probably not even reading this on the 13th as you were too scared to open your laptop in case it melted or you were hacked by Anonymous and your identity was stolen and sold to refugees.
In light of all of this you probably think that releasing your debut EP on today of all days could be a bit of a brave move; well evidently nobody told Mallen. Either that or the band aren’t superstitious and really couldn’t care less.
Based deep inside the best part of the Midlands (The west if you really have to ask) Mallen are Kelly- Jane (Vocals) Dan Pritchard (Guitar) Dean Ellis (Bass) and Thomas Crowfoot. (Drums, backing vocals) The band properly came together at the back end of 2013 and as I mentioned above today marks the release of their debut EP Ignition.
If you have ever met me in real life you will know that I am a simple man, and as a result the fact that the EP has a proper intro has brought me great joy. In the grand scheme of things the success of your record will not be determined by whether or not it has a proper intro but it’s something I always think is pretty cool. Like I said… simple man. (No Lynyrd Skynyrd)
The record properly kicks off with the first song that I ever heard from the band Welcome To The Edge. (As I am a nice man you can even watch the video for this one below, look at their happy little faces!) The vocal is smooth, the drums concussive and the guitars deliciously crunchy. Regular readers will know that I am a bit of a drum geek when it comes to rock records and have bitched out little pathetic sounding drum sounds on more than one occasion so it’s a big plus that the work from Crowfoot here really has that ‘pop.’ It’s a really big up-tempo effort and the sweeping guitar solo tops the track off nicely. I’ve liked the song more and more the more that I have heard it which is always a good thing in book.
Up next is Legacy, a tune which if I’m being brutally honest took a while to grow on me. It’s not that it’s a bad track because it isn’t I like its Alter Bridge-ness; it was just kind of there. However that being said it did seriously grow on me a little bit more every time that I pressed play on the record. There is an instrumental section just over halfway through where the drums combined with the deep guitar riff give this shuddering effect which is a cool touch. I don’t think the song is one of the bands best but it’s still a very solid track.
Rise To Fly is slower than the opening couple of tunes but not every song can be hell for leather so this slight slowing of the pace shows a little versatility on the band’s part. The way that the song is put together means that the vocal along with a damn good guitar solo from Pritchard really take centre stage. The thing I really want to talk about though is the vocal. I used the word smooth earlier and I think that’s probably the best fit for it. It isn’t your typical balls to the wall, real hard rock vocal, Kelly-Jane’s voice glides over the musical mayhem below rather than adding to it. This is gives the songs a bit of something different from your standard hard rock fare, it’s a subtle difference but one I’m a fan of.
Final track Ride is all things considered my favourite on the record. I would describe it as Black Sabbath’s Children Of The Grave with a little bit of a more modern Mallen twist. In fact the track is put together exactly like a classic Sabbath tune. There are lots of different phases, and interludes it really ticks all of the boxes. Especially where the main body of the track drops away leaving just the bass to build everything slowly back up into a soaring guitar solo. And after I just spent most of the previous paragraph saying how smooth the lead vocal is, Kelly-Jane flips all of that on its head and delivers a real gutsy performance which suits the song down to the ground. The track has a harder edge than pretty much everything else on the EP and it’s a great way to finish.
As far as debut records go Ignition is a very good record. I’m still not 100% sold on Legacy so that probably stops it from being totally outstanding. I can be a very harsh critic. However there are a serious amount of plus points to make up for that minor wobble. I like the song writing and the way that the tracks are put together. The guitar solos are totally on point, the bass from Ellis lays the foundations in impeccable fashion and as I mentioned above I love the drum work and the vocal hits all of the right notes. (Sorry for the little cliché there)
There is plenty of replay value to be had and Welcome To The Edge and Ride are real standout tracks. Ignition isn’t quite perfect but what records are, the band can be mighty pleased with their work here. Mallen have arrived.
Ignition is available to download from all the usual places and you can catch the band headlining the Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton tomorrow night (14th Feb)