Rogen – EP

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Unsigned alternative punk band Rogen release their first EP on Bandcamp, Ian Critchley tells us why he thinks they’ll be ones to watch.

Rogen are soon to be one of the key movers in the slowly growing resurgence of traditional “emo” happening across the UK. Marrying elements of Taking Back Sunday‘s “Tell All Your Friends” with the pop-punk styling of bands such as Rufio and The Movielife, this Chester based five piece may only be making noise on a local level at the moment but, if this E.P. is anything to go by, they will no doubt be swinging with the big hitters in no time at all.

Looking at the title of opening track, “Andy From The Office”, you could be mistaken in tarring the band as another “pop-culture” name dropping pop-punk act who write songs about “hanging with friends during the summer” and “going to really cool parties where the popular girl ignores you” in that oh so familiar American Pie meets New Found Glory fashion that seems to exude from the Bandcamp pages of so many these days. But you’d be wrong in doing so and, quite frankly, a bit of a dick. Luckily I avoided making this mistake by actually listening to the first ten seconds of that song, instantly realising that here was a band who, though maintaining the basic elements of pop-punk in terms of musicality, were chock full of substance. This wasn’t another generic, dumbed down, wannabe American effort but music that was constructed with a whole lot of heart and intellect.

The guitar riffs are often quite bouncy and if it wasn’t for the use of some slightly dirty distortion they might be construed as pretty upbeat and generally fun. Thankfully this mix of the upbeat and the unclean works in unison with great success on this record, giving the entire sound of Rogen a unique twist which almost comes across as a punked up version of emo heroes American Football.

The vocals also do wonders in twisting Rogen into a much darker entity than that of their contemporaries, with singer Declan’s coarse tonality searing throughout this eleven minute EP. Declan’s voice feels almost uncontrollable as he switches unconsciously from serene to guttural aggression with a painful honesty and conviction that is so often lost in the modern day music scene.

The real highlight of the record comes at the end however with “URI”, I think the title was inspired by I R Baboon, with its opening riff instantly screaming out to be a live favourite. The song is a perfect example of everything that made the early emo sound so great, with it’s use of intricate lead riffs over heavy bar-chords, pulsating bass and drum combo, and passionate vocal track which finally cascades into the glorious lyrical outro “I’ll sharpen my teeth, til you’re nothing” morphing an emotive statement to an almost full blown football-styled chant.

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The EP is available in a ‘pay what you like’ format from Rogen’s Bandcamp, and Rogen can be ‘liked’ on Facebook or followed on Twitter.

All words by Ian Critchley. More writing by Ian on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.

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