Ex People - Bird

by Warwick Stubbs Rating:7 Release Date:2017-05-19

Bird clearly walks the line between Sludge Metal and Stoner Rock. Bringing their noisy guitars through distortion pedals and nothing else, while female vocals are a positive step away from ego-driven testosterone. The album packs a punch, but not a particularly hard one – production feels too basic and musical ideas thin.

‘Not a Drill’ has that proto-Heavy Rock Black Sabbath swing going on in the verses while the chorus finds it’s sludge through the wailing vocal line of “we fought like hell – it’s not a drill.” The 3 minute slow trek through the start of ‘The Host’ finally yields to a tempo pick-up. And this is what I have waited for! Now we’re cooking up the guitar groove, vocals are singing with intent “his ship has sailed, and we can be free” before breaking out with a souring delay-drenched “We can be freeeeeeeeeeeee.” But then we’re done (*sad face*). It’s over and we’re back to the original slow trek out of the song. I like all of it, but the repetition without any real hook doesn’t make this song something I have any desire to return to. Probably the central let-down of this album is no-riffs – guitars attempt bludgeoning chords, but the bass and drums aren’t heavy enough to do any damage. As it is, there are no quiet moments to offset the heavier parts, and as a result the heavy ends up not so heavy after all. This fact may be due more to production with the drums sounding thin and nothing standing out, the bass suffers the same. ‘You Creep’ finally catches a riff and cuts the grooves with stuttering stabs in the chorus, catchy vocals continue to soar, and the solo brings some wah-drenched flurry. I want more of that – vocal hooks, guitar hooks, and lyrics that draw me into their world.

The album doesn’t show a lot of variety, however, for a first album Bird is nothing short of solid and unified in its goal to present the band as heavy rockers with much to offer. Two tracks before the end 'The Erlenmeyer Flask' and 'Surekill' are a highlight, but the closing track ‘Crested’ is a drawn-out existential crisis of things already done. It’s like waiting for a tree to fall in a storm but never bending enough to break.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Kylesa lately and am reminded a little of the Sludge Metal that Savannah based band are proponents of, however, the sound of Ex People isn’t as thick, isn’t as bludgeoning, and is just straight out not as heavy.

Bird is a pretty good album though and it's a strong debut that I genuinely like. I also have no reservations recommending it to fans of either Stoner Rock or Sludge Metal, just don’t expect it to replace anything else you’re listening to.

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