ARTIST: Past Haunts
ALBUM NAME: Afterthoughts EP
RELEASE DATE: 30 April 2016
COUNTRY: South Africa
CITY: Cape Town
Brett Allen-White – Vocals/Bass
Kristian Gerstner – Guitar
Scott Miller – Drums
Mitchell Lüthi – Guitar
Past Haunts –a post-punk band from Cape Town with a couple of releases already to their name. The latest comes in the form of an EP and is titled, Afterthoughts. First of all, let me compliment the album art – some stunning work by Caroline Michie. At first impressions I thought I was in for some psychedelic infused goodness… I was wrong. Though ample amounts of atmosphere is certainly present on Afterthoughts, the cover is the most psychedelic aspect of the release.
Clocking in at just under 12 minutes, the EP consists of three tracks. Since it’s not a shipload of auditory matter to discuss, I’m going to review each track individually as well as part of the whole; hopefully this will provide the clearest idea of what the release entails without actually giving it a spin on your turntable.
Opening track,we have Ether. A strong advent to Afterthoughts, it is emotionally grasping and atmospherically rich. It all starts with simple guitar feedback, after which the drums arrive,accompanied by some nice guitar harmonies – providing a very accessible introduction to what’s to come. After the vast, open sonic landscape created by the introduction, a powerful riff kicks in; marking the start of the first verse. The palm mutes definitely bear the balls here, over strong, hardcoresque vocals; they remind me of Tim from Rise Against, especially when it comes to the more aggressive vocalisations – in a slightly lower register and more sombre, perhaps. The song opens up in the chorus, allowing for a very accessible soundscape.
The final section of the track is very intriguing… Eerie bends on the guitar create a wonderful atmosphere,the solid drumming and driven bass then starts an immense build-up with the guitars soon to follow – one of which creates a full, but not overpowering wall of sound, while the other treats the listener’s ears to a melody through which mountains could be conquered.
Next up, we have the middle child of the release, Questions. It starts off with some keys, emerging the listener in a very different environment compared to where Ether left us. Complementary to the keys, some strings come into play – which I’m pretty sure were created by a synthesiser; I could be wrong. Honest to all which is good, I was convinced this was going to lead up to some beats being dropped and becoming a full-fledged trip-hop track… To my delight, this was not at all the case.
All the orchestral elements subside and leaves one or two seconds of room – just enough to make one anxiously awaiting what’s to come. Next thing I know, after a tasty drumroll, the song breaks off into a very cool guitar driven riff. Nothing too obscene, until the fourth bar hits and you’re greeted by some elements of dissonance – which I believe were used to great effect. The verse opens the song up with gentle vocals and ringing guitars.
Some momentum starts flowing, leading to a climax and showing the way to the chorus. Though this song is not the strongest amongst the three by any means, it carries a lot of emotion with it and has some mighty memorable moments. I get the impression that it is quite a personal piece to the band.
Now, onto Bonfire – the final song on the EP. It opens with somewhat solemn vocals and chords, after which it leads into the chorus. A strong hardcore influence can definitely be detected. After the chorus, the song enters a very warm, smooth bass-driven bridge. The song fluctuates between heavier and lighter soundscapes, playing around with rhythmic elements to keep the listener interested.
Even though this song is the shortest on the EP, I feel like it’s the strongest – in the sense that it’s the track that did the most. It starts off captivating and builds an atmosphere juicy enough to make you want to stay to see what happens next. It’s a wonderful closer to the album as it is very emotive, progresses and builds on itself to a truly climatic ending.
All in all, it’s a good release and Past Haunts have definitely been moving forward all the way through their musical journey. Afterthoughts is musical enough to keep those with a keen ear interested, but remains accessible to the general populous thanks to catchy riffage and emotive songwriting. Everything works together nicely and it sounds like it would be great fun to see these guys live. I believe that the post-inspired build-ups, complemented by the weighty releases of punk, make for quite a tasty combo.
Reviewed by: Willem Maritz (more from Willem)
Shots fired by: 7 String Studios for Paper Scissors Rock
Date: 6 July 2016
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