Desenser – Aurora Equitum EP
Release Date: 19/08/22
Running Time: 24:07
Review by Simon Black
Sometimes bands can be their own worst enemies. There’s an endemic attitude of “build it and they will come” amongst so many musicians – particularly those just getting going, which assumes that if they’ve got as far as writing, recording and releasing some music, that this will magically translate into instant success. The reality is that a decent product is only a fraction of what’s needed to even start to get anywhere, and many bands flail at these obstacles helplessly like a squid attempting the one hundred metre hurdles on dry land…
I always talk about success in the music business as being a magic triangle that has to come together each time a band wants to move up a level – where the right quality product, delivered with the right attitude and persistence and (the one you cannot control) a lot of luck. Lose out on one of these and you stay or fold… Desenser are getting a lot right however…
The first I had heard of them was just prior to their lunchtime slot on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock. At this point in the weekend, the hangover had been kicked down the slightly longer but badly scorched grass for two days, and most of my camp were cowering under a gazebo by our tents hoping that today was not going to prove to be as blisteringly hot as the last two days had been – heat so intense that just standing in the field all day to see who you got was off the radar and we found ourselves only venturing out for the shortlist of acts that could not be missed.
Sadly it was hotter than hell that day…
…Into our camp, and full of enthusiasm like it wasn’t torrid enough for your average demon to consider emigrating to one of the poles, comes Defenser front man Tyler Shield. Now Mr Shield clearly understands the point I made in my opening words, because despite having more than one CD available to the market, and despite managing to succeed at the Metal To The Masses and grab a slot at Bloodstock, he has realised that a lot more was going to be needed to get people in to see the band in these (or indeed any) conditions. He’s right, because far too often I’ve seen bands hit that stage like they were on top of the world, never to be heard of again.
So here he was, telling us that he was playing and trying to drum up support. For that reason alone, we all made it into the New Blood Stage, because that’s the attitude and energy that gets you moving in this day and age, when a label is largely redundant unless you have already made it several levels up. It’s a launchpad, and it needs to be treated as such – Desenser get this. Actually, they were surprisingly good live and that energy came through on stage as well, despite the fact that everyone was probably in serious danger of skidding in their own sweat pools on stage, such was the boundless energy these lads, and Tyler in particular, displayed.
Tyler was also kind enough to hand me a physical copy of their latest opus, which is why you are now reading this. One thing that grabs you immediately for such a young band, one for who even the humble compact disk might seem an archaic format, is quite how much thought, care and attention has gone into the presentation of the disk (and the same for their 2020 self-titled debut EP as it happens). If a self-produced band just off the staring blocks do release a physical CD copy without label support in those crucial early EP days, then you don’t expect it to come in a lavishly produced digipak, complete with separate booklet and lyrics sheets for each song, and with some truly high-quality artwork to boot. This is a 5-track (+ intro) EP remember, not an album – so a considerable outlay for the band. But then if you want people to buy your wares, you need to make them attractive, and they succeed admirably here.
Then there’s the music.
Take a little bit of Punk, a dollop of Hardcore, add a Modern Metal tinge and an almost Progressive twist to the instrumentals and you have a combo that would peak my attention anyway, even if they hadn’t got such a good grasp of viral marketing that morning. From the opening bars of the intro ‘Behold, A Pale Horse’, it is clear that there’s a level of musicianship and depth at play here beyond the normal “rip the world a new asshole for as long as we can” that bands on the starting blocks usually opt for. What you don’t get is complex bass work like Daniel Law delivers, which fluidly intertwines with some subtle and restrained synth lines from Daniel Hudson, and some really, really clever drum work from the final part of the jigsaw Daniel Law. Yup, this technically rich, fat sounding and complex piece of work is the work of three lads splattered across the midlands and North West, despite sounding like they might be a five piece. And that’s just the Intro…
When they do turn on the punch, it’s not held back. With lively, energetic and well-written songs that hold the attention that play and juggle the influences whilst sounding unique and individual, which is what you want in this business because let’s face it, originality wins this game. ’White Face’ feels the most obviously Metal of the tracks, and if the music had stayed at this pitch and tone I would probably have been content, but these lads don’t stay still.
If I had to pick a favourite, I would go for ‘Broken Crown’, because it showcases their variety, as well as the range of front man Shield, who can Hardcore roar, scale the clean note highs effortlessly, and even croon on occasion. Sounds odd? It is, but it works. ‘Passing, Fade Away’ is interesting too, with its haunting opening bars and clean vocal melody lines, layering in the instruments to a rapid crescendo, this is probably the most technically tight of the tracks on this EP. It’s also got the kind of production values in the studio that you really don’t expect from a band at this stage in their career, and the band have managed to produce a remarkably well-made video for the track to boot (see below).
“Dawn of the Knights” is what their Latin title translates to, and it couldn’t be more apt for these lads. Two of the three corners are there, fingers crossed for that all important luck…
‘Passing, Fade Away’ Official Video
01. Behold, A Pale Horse
02. White Face
03. Broken Crown
04. Torn Apart
05. Passing, Fade Away
06. All That Remains
Tyler Shield – Vocals
Daniel Hudson – Guitars / Synth
Daniel Law – Bass
Luke Smith – Guest vocals on ‘Broken Crown’
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