UK-based grunge metallers, RAZE, are releasing their debut album ‘Pyrography’ on the 28th of July. Hailing from Hertfordshire, the quintet have been blazing a path into the hearts of many, garnering support from ERB magazine and many others.
RAZE is formed of vocalist Louis Dunham, bassist Sam Trueman, guitarists Daniel Eveleigh and Jack Ilott and drummer Ethan Morner. Together they expertly fuse post-grunge and metal into an eclectic sound.
2 weeks ago, their most recent single ‘Roachman’ was released in anticipation for their album. Based on the incredible standard it set, I was highly anticipating getting the opportunity to listen to the full album.
The album begins with ‘Maple’, which lasts an impressive 5 minutes and 40 seconds.
I’m not exaggerating when I say my mouth was hanging open listening to this track! Opening with low melancholic vocals, I already found myself surprised when this developed into an impressive, haunting vocal run. I was in awe, which was compounded when this was accompanied by metal screaming.
The emotive, clear vocals stand out against the backing of a crashing grunge instrumental with piercing cymbals and shredding electric riffs. Despite this being RAZE’s debut album, Louis’ vocals convey a mastery I would expect from someone much further in his career. His scream is healthy and commanding, showcasing his complete control and dynamic vocal range.
‘Better Off Alone’ was the first single to have been released from the album, marking their first release in 5 years. RAZE, when speaking to Rock N’ Load, revealed that this song is also the first they ever wrote together. This track set a new precedent for their future music by “mark[ing] the inclusion of more metallic elements in our previously grunge-led sound”.
‘Better Off Alone’ sets an amazing standard – the attention to detail in production and the perfect melding of each instrument is a result of RAZE’s complete creative control, recording out of Dunham’s own Black Seraph Studios.
‘Roachman’, the most recently released single, tells the story of a young man who transforms into, you guessed it, a ‘roachman’. It’s excellently accompanied by a music video with a claymation sequence portraying the same story. A stripped-back instrumental bridge uses a creeping guitar riff with building layers of bass and slow drum beats to create an anticipatory “transformation”, especially as the tempo begins to increase with a crashing of cymbals in the back. RAZE use not only lyrics, but their instruments to tell the story of ‘Roachman’.
Next is the titular track ‘Pyrography’. Louis’ signature emotive vocals are preceded by a clean guitar riff that continues throughout the song. As the vocals become more urgent and intense, heavy guitars bring us back to the heavy metal influence we have come to love from RAZE. The guitar is the highlight of this track for me.
There’s a dip in the song where the familiar riff is accompanied by a quick drumbeat reminiscent of the ‘snap and flicker’ of a fire, sparking a sense of anticipation for an explosive electric guitar solo. The solo sports an insanely fast tempo that could only be achieved with a true mastery of the instrument. To me, it perfectly represents the motif of fire which this track explores.
‘…Again?’ Is one of my personal favourites from this album. Opening with a low bass riff and muted strings, it’s clear from the beginning that this is an exceptionally grungy track. The vocals and edgy riffs are reminiscent of Alice in Chains, a significant influence for the band’s grunge sound. Once again, the guitar plays a huge feature on this track, featuring what they refer to as a “guitar dual” – Dan and Jack both play their instruments as if communicating through them, bouncing off each other to create a triumphant sound. Both guitars come together in revolutionary harmony to close out the song.
‘Mellow // Breeze’ juxtaposes with the previous tracks with its easy, intimate sound. The tempo is slow, created by a relaxed drum accompaniment and laid-back melodic vocals.
However, just like the album itself, this track is not without its surprises. Towards the middle it picks up, with stabbing guitars introducing a gritty distorted solo, gaining in tempo and pitch to effectively close out the song.
The closing track, ‘Blue-Sky Vengeance’, is the heaviest by far. RAZE draw influence from the signature tuning of metal bands like Machine Head, dropping the guitars down to ‘Drop B’. This harmonic tuning creates some seriously groovy metal riffs throughout the track. The lyrics are as profound, provoking and descriptive as ever; They explore a perilous post-apocalypse which, in my opinion, epitomises the thought-provoking nature of all of RAZE’s music. This album makes you feel, and makes you think, with a knack for storytelling through its dynamic sound.