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Blank Atlas - 'Canvas' EP Review


1. I Was Told This Is How Wars Start

2. Halfway There

3. Sing For Something

4. Borrowed Time

5. Envy

Self-proclaimed as Bristol's least favourite band and apparently relishing the outsider status this gives them, Blank Atlas' sophomore effort 'Canvas' is an interesting blend of Pop harmonies and a heavy down-tuned chug that almost borders on Djent, this is music with a Pop sensibility but cranked all the way up, with some heavy chugging riffs blended with atonal staccato jabs and little funky moments. Every now and again the melodic vocals give way to something a bit harder edged, suggesting that if the urge took them Blank Atlas could be a lot heavier than they are, I'm definitely not saying they should be, the style evoked on this EP is quite refreshing.

I found myself listening more than a few times, just trying to get a handle on some of this because the songs are short with a number of ideas going on it occasionally feels a bit jumbled, as odd meters seem to be thrown in just to keep us guessing. The band seems to lock into these staccato jabs and slightly funky moments while the vocals either flow across the top or hit the same rhythms. While it's possible to view this as a band struggling to put all the ideas in, throwing all but the kitchen sink at the ideas, it can be argued that the band's eclectic structures and the variety of moods in each song give them more interest, showing how they are musically very capable and an exceptionally tight unit (this is an internal argument and anyone who has this on their mind will arrive at their own conclusions).

I haven't heard the band's debut release so, as is so often the case this has been my first exposure to the music of Blank Atlas. I've struggled to come to terms with the seeming abundance of ideas the band has wedged into these 5 songs, it's almost as though the band is full on all the time. If that's the case EP's may be the ideal method of getting their music out to their fans, it's perhaps a bit busier than I'd normally like, and sometimes I found myself wondering about the sheer diversity within the arrangements.

Clever definitely, but was it necessary? Who am I to say? I didn't dislike it, certainly, it has it's moments, but perhaps I wanted more? So, I'm left either overstimulated and excited by the band or thoroughly bewildered and I'm still not sure which.

Review - Mike McLaughlin

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