2. Above & Below
5. Decay To Create
7. Diamond In The Rough
9. Living Ghost
10. Dream Sequence
There are some bands who fire out half-arsed, genre-dipping albums which seemingly lack substance and ultimately alienate their most loyal of audiences. Then there are bands like Napoleon, who have crafted and grafted, to bring their loyal fanbase an album to follow "Newborn Mind", all the while progressing in their sound to reach new listeners. Despite the departure of their drummer James Mendoza earlier this year, the Exeter lads continue to take great strides forward, with the release of their second studio album, "Epiphany".
The album starts with "Godspeed", an uplifting instrumental intro, the unmistakable sound of Sam Osborn's melodic fretwork. When it kicks in, the track is bursting with energy, maintaining the Napoleon signature upbeat-beatdown vibe. Wesley Thompson's vocals are powerful, he wants to make every word of his narrative resound with the listener. "Above & Below" had some great use of panning tracks at key moments, a really great touch.
Next up, "Ignite": choppy, almost Mathcore style to it. Once again, I really appreciated little moments like panning Osborn's pre-verse riff to the right. These tracks have been produced by someone who gets Napoleon's direction. The lyrics are fantastic, "You are the reason I feel alive, so watch my soul ignite tonight". It is so refreshing to hear positive lyrics, escaping some of the stereotypical pitfalls of the genre. "Epiphany" the albums title track is suitably named so. This track is pure power, I cannot wait to see this one live. Some great reaffirming cleans from Thompson.
"Decay To Create" has a similar feel to "Godspeed", this one starts with another uplifting instrumental intro, before smacking you across the chops. Jacob Brelsford on bass and James Mendoza on drums really take the band's signature sound to the next level. It's my second favourite track on the album, belongs on your best "bro"ad trip playlist." "Fantasist" has a fantastic change of pace midway through that I didn't see coming. The rhythm changes, and combined with additional vocals from JT Cavey from Erra, this one really stops you in your tracks.
"Diamond In The Rough" has more of the same fast-paced energy, with a chorus so catchy, it can only be described as a flex of vocal muscle. I can imagine some undecided listeners finding the tracks lacking the typical level of variation we expect from a great band, but it's clear that these lads have found their sound and largely stay loyal to it, an element lost on a lot of large bands populating the scene. "Zeitgeist" is my favourite track off the album. With Mendoza's thundering drums and the interplay between Brelsford's slick bass slap and Osborn's guitar harmonics gives this track an authentic feelgood quality. The track has such a strong chorus, with Thompson really unleashing those impeccable highs. All topped off nicely with tasty breakdown for their loyals. This one is staying with you for a few days.
"Living Ghost" has a video-game style edge, perhaps that game that kicks your arse, good and proper. There are some fat sounding bass-focused sections by Brelsford, complimented by Osborn's complex fret work. The chorus has a very satisfying chord progression that sets this track apart. The interlude has an ambient sound to it, before Thompson comes back in and brings the song to a controlled-chaotic resolve. "Dream Sequence" certainly feels so, with a haunting, ethereal effect on Osborn's guitar. Thompson has maintained a continuous growl through the album, it's unparalleled. As this is the last track of the album, it has a distinctly grand feel to the chorus, with more vocal variation from Thompson. The string section of the resolve tops the album off beautifully, perfectly echoing Osborn's affinity for melodic guitar work.
All in all, 'Epiphany' is aptly named, with all members of Napoleon carefully creating this sheer force of sound that reinvigorates the listener. Whether that be that one extra rep at the gym, making that long commute home shorter, or getting you pumped for that final boss, this high-energy, hard-hitting record is their finest work and it's that moment of clarity you've been waiting for.
Website - www.napoleonuk.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Napoleon/
Review - Cee Gregory