The artists formerly known as BlackWolf are back on the scene after a rethink, and are now known as illustr8ors, their blues rock leanings giving way to an altogether more modern, contemporary sounding brand of rock. Music fans are less fickle these days, and individual tastes extend beyond the “it’s metal or nothing” attitude that I had growing up. Therefore, a band such as illustr8ors should be able to find a widespread audience amongst many different markets all under the ‘rock’ umbrella. There’s lashings of funky bass licks, a copious amount of fast riffing, and a pulsating drum sound that rattles around the listener’s skull for days on end. Couple that with vocals that twist and turn so many times it renders any kind of pigeonholing useless, and you have an idea what the Bristol outfit sound like.
‘Swimming With Anchors’ has a vocal performance from Scott Sharp that, in places, echoes Brian Molko. They share the same clear and pronounced, almost spoken word, style that the Placebo frontman perfected. Then, Sharp changes direction with a more traditional rock vocal that impresses, as some heavy bass from Ben Webb comes in to shake the foundations. The riffing is ever present, as both John Greenhill and Jason Cronin go to town with a whirlwind of sweet solos and driving rhythms. ‘Shush Shush’ is a highlight of the set during the current shows supporting Toseland. Sharp delivers a nice line in falsetto vocals during the chorus, as the band bring the funk back to modern rock. The work rate from drummer Thomas Lennox-Brown is astounding, and in the live setting, it’s impossible to keep your eyes off him, as he rattles around his kit like a less hairy version of Mike Bordin. ‘Your Animal’ is massive. The riffs take over on a perfect example of how rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t need to sound dated to have any effect. It’s modern sounding and very very slick. ‘Something Biblical’ is the fastest and heaviest track on the EP, and it rattles along at a speedy pace with some fantastic guitar solos at the breakdown, but the song is all about the drums. What a shift Lennox-Brown puts in on this one.
It takes balls to call time on what was a promising career and totally reinvent yourself, but on this evidence, illustr8ors have certainly made the correct decision.The ‘illustr8ors’ EP is released on October 14th.
Review: Dave Stott