No Made Sense
New Season/New Blues
When No Made Sense released ‘The Epillanic Choragi’ to widespread critical acclaim, the world should well have been at their feet. The plaudits kept coming in, and loyal fans continued to head to their shows. But it hasn’t really taken off for the Reading three-piece in the way it should have; and I’ll admit, I never got round to checking that album out in full. The wait for this album has been much, much longer than any of their epic songs.
Those concerns aside, ‘New Season/New Blues’ is a welcome return from these progressive metallers, and as its been made available on a pay-what-you-like scale through their Bandcamp page, there’s no reason why any true rock or metal fan shouldn’t add this to their record collection. Interesting and forward-thinking enough for prog musos, yet accessible and resistant enough to avoid going off on too many tangents.
The early part of the album announces itself with ‘No Gain From Seeking’, a nine-minute opus that shapeshifts as much as it drives forward, with guitarist/vocalist Leo Dennett flexing his vocal range as the riffs flow – noticeably stacked with layers to create an almost wall of noise effect. That’s just the start of things, and the next few tracks come in at around four or five minutes each and keep the momentum moving forward. ‘Lying on My Own’ is simply excellent; the refrain of the title alone is enough to stick in your head and each member’s performance here is outstanding in every aspect. In addition to ‘Four’ and ‘You Might As Well’, here you have a first half opening on par with any of the current crop of progressive metal greats, and in many ways evokes acts such as Isis and Baroness; particularly the former in capturing a bleak, intelligent, approach.
Such is the nature of this band and their music is that they manage to more than comfortably avoid the pitfall of allowing their album to tail off. The second half of the album features a brilliant section where ‘Half of the Wall’, an interlude of sorts consisting mostly of fuzz and distortion, is allowed to gently build towards the end of song, before plunging headfirst into ‘Silence’, a display of instrumental gallantry, equal parts Pelican and Mogwai in nature as it shifts from heavy to melodic. ‘You Might As Well’ is driven by an excellent technical drum beat from Sam Ward that keeps the song purring like a smooth motor, until it peters out right at the end when left on its own to close the song.
The closing track, ‘Sleep’ is just pure perfection. It ghosts into focus and just a few minutes in, everything stops and all you hear for a time is the chatter of a restaurant or some fancy dinner – I think. Dennett then returns acoustically and the songs begins to climb back up towards the top of the apex it created for itself. It continues to drift elegantly, layering up along the way, and like all good monstrous heavies, it raises the pressure, before releasing it climactically with an almighty ten-ton riff. That beast speeds up as the song begins its descent and the album reaches the finish line.
If there’s one niggling complaint, it’s that at the album progresses, the interludes feel a little too regular – tracks 4 (‘Swings’), 6 (‘Half of the Wall’), and 8 (‘Down’) all register slightly as non-songs, and while the first two appear at just the right times and inject the right amount of variation and atmosphere into proceedings, the latter feels slightly like an inconvenience and doesn’t serve to build up into ‘You Might As Well’ effectively as that particular song does some building up of its own. But again, just a minor complaint, because otherwise, this is a remarkably great album from a damn fine band, and one to force me to atone for my earlier ignorance. Unlike ‘The Epillanic Choragi’, it’s free of concept, and was instead recorded live, giving it that raw, abrasive heavy feel. It’s refreshing in this case, free of over-polishing and over-perfection, and it allows all the instruments to stand out and create their own complexities.
Sadly, this could well be the last record by No Made Sense. The release of ‘New Season/New Blues’ was apparently severely delayed and was eventually (perhaps casually) released, by all accounts, on a Saturday, and upon releasing the album, the band announced they had gone on indefinite hiatus. To quote them: “you might not hear from us again for a while. Or maybe ever. So, thanks and stuff.” Once again, a fine British band disintegrates or disbands way before their time, and hardly any bugger will notice.
If this is to be end, cheers for making the morning commute not only bearable, but fecking enjoyable. A real pleasure.