CD | DL
Out 6th July 2015
10 / 10
Oxfordshire-based punk brothers, Cassels, release their debut EP, ‘Hating is Easy’, on July 6th. Louder Than War’s Josh Cooper reviews.
After their outstanding debut single, ‘We Wander In The Night/Rinse And Retreat’, released last year, the Cassels brothers return with another offering of their heavy, intelligent punk rock. The ‘Hating Is Easy’ EP follows on brilliantly, with 4 well thought-out chunks of fast, riff heavy head-bangers and the charming duel vocals that make the boys such a joy to watch live.
The newer direction that can be heard on this EP, and indeed at their latest performances, shows a maturity in songwriting, more complex arrangements and confident, politicized lyrics. Apathy and disillusionment, main themes that vocalist Jim Beck used in his writing, seems to have been supplanted for more pro-active anger and frustration. At a recent gig during Fluffer Records ambitious weekend festival, they announced that their closing number was being played “in loving memory of the NHS”.
The opening, and title, track showcases Cassels classic riff heavy, quiet-loud and multi-tempo style perfectly. Bone-crushingly distorted doom licks played over precisely refrained drums lead into a mid-eight that slows things down for close harmonies before a steady build into a more danceable beat. One thing these guys have always done well: they know when to give their lyrics centre stage. “I would love you, but loving is scary/so I hate you, hating is easy”, simple words – delivered powerfully.
Their sound is increasingly hard to pin down, given that each song progresses through so many different styles, ‘I Swept Right’ is a prime example of this, going from hardcore tendencies to almost twee indie. The modern social critique here is where the treat lies, given away obviously by the title. “Chivalry’s dead, shot him square between the eyes/Romance is dead, no-one to bury her deep between your thighs”.
‘666 Feet’, another politically charged slab of punk rock goodness, is short and sweet, clocking in at under 2mins. Cassels have made a smart move here, and with the whole EP for that matter, these tracks are sharp, direct and to the point. Never predictable, never resting on the same vocal hook or chord progression to hook the listener in, they deliberately want to keep you on the edge of your seat, and that’s what ‘Hating Is Easy’ does so incredibly well.
Well placed psych guitars open EP closer ‘Sights For Sore Eyes’, before fuzzy, stoner chords drive the song forward to bring us the most pop-centric track of the EP with catchy hooks and memorable guitar licks. It’s a strong conclusion for a remarkable debut, Cassels have done exactly what they set out to achieve: deliver hard, impactful noise with meaning and purpose. They’ve not taken the easy root either, you’ll find no walls of murmuring, pulsating feedback here, no unnecessarily long intros or noise-outs. ‘Hating Is Easy’ shows a maturity in songwriting beyond their years, but also showcases a sound that has set them apart from a lot of their current contemporaries.
It really is a 10/10 release, a perfect follow-up, introduction and precursor of what’s to come. It’ll be interesting to see how an album develops or in what direction they’ll go next, but knowing Cassels – they’ll continue to keep us on our toes regardless.
All words by Josh Cooper. You can find Josh’s author’s archive here.