October 5, 2015 Modestep – London Road (Album Review)
The London-based band known as Modestep has traveled a long road since their initial formation back in 2010. Brothers, Tony (DJ/Producer/Rhythm Guitarist) along and Josh (Vocalist/Keyboardist) Friend lead the project with a vision in mind, and that came together in 2013 with their debut record, Evolution Theory. A hybrid of Rock, Dubstep, and Electronic, the band hit number one in UK charts with singles like “Feel Good,” “Bite The Hand,” “Sunlight,” “To The Stars,” “Show Me A Sign,” and “Another Day.” Now two years later, Modestep return further progressing their sound on their sophomore album entitled London Road. Release on May 25th via INgrooves/Max, the newest offering see’s the band as a much more solidified project with new lead guitarist Kyle Deek and former Funeral For A Friend Drummer Pat Lundy. How much do the changes and years of experience gained mean to the Friend brothers? Well, the fans need to be the judge of that when going into London Road filled with heightened exceptions.
London Road is a 12-track tour of feelings and sights as experienced and interpreted by Modestep, beginning with “Damien.” This track features a collaboration with Funcast and a voice-over from actor Alan “Bricktop” Ford (Snatch 2000), who sounds like he’s chastising his gang. This track has the feel of an episodic film noir from a bygone era with a contemporary flare. A riff rises from the shadows, followed by heavy distortions that sound as if a beat down is taking place. Then, as the scene fades to black, synths play simply. Next, “Make You Mine” is a collaboration with Teddy K. This track, a love song, opens with a sinister music box intro., followed by heavy guitars, but whether this is a healthy love is up to the listener.
The sound of churning gears brings in “Machines,” and a heavy bass-line follows. Electricity runs throughout the track as Friend asks if we’ve become machines with our routines. The album moves on to “On Our Own,” a collaboration with Culprate. This tune is a multi-faceted synth piece with another heavy bass-line and distortions that weave seamlessly throughout a message of independence: “We can do this on our own/No looking back, time to go.”
With an anthemic tenor, “Feel Alive” changes the pace a bit, but Modestep doesn’t totally drop the electronica as there are bits peppered throughout as the guys ruminate about just going through the motions of life. The Reggae track “Rainbow” follows, featuring a collaboration with Partysquad. Although short, with its fun carnival-like mix and thumping bass, this song is anything but a throwaway track. A hypnotic riff heralds in “Snake,” which was the first single the world heard from London Road, and Modestep’s new sound that came with it. The accompanying drum-line helps said riff drive the forcefulness of the track as Friend sings about a shady girl, whom he likens to the titular snake.
A bit of rain and an Oriental vibe bring in “Nightbus Home,” and the bass and distortions kick in when Friend tells his girl, “I’ll meet you on the nightbus home/So you don’t have to walk alone.” Distortion hails in “Seams,” and the track is off and running. The listener gets an image of smoking turntables and drums while Josh sings of being there for someone when they need to vent, even when the relationship is souring. The ethereal “Sing,” which features a collaboration with Trolley Snatcha, is rife with reverberation and airy effects. With a chill beat and distortions weaving in and out, this song has the feel of a reminiscence.
As London Road begins to wind down, Modestep collaborated with Skindred on “Circles,” a juggernaut that sounds as if Reggae, Metalcore, and Dubstep had a love child. With an infectious beat that plays throughout hypnotically, the reggae gives way to metalcore’s growls, and rises up again. “Game Over,” a collaboration with Rude Kid featuring Big Narstie, Dialect, Discarda, Flowdan, Frisco & LayZ, kills it with hyper-delivered Rap lyrics married to Dubstep, bringing London Road to a close.
The long gestation of Modestep’s London Road was well worth the wait. With highly addictive tracks that warrant multiple listens, this album will have the listener dissecting each and finding new elements not found on any given previous listen. Evolution is good when a bit of the past is retained while going into the future, and Modestep has achieved that feat. They have clearly shown they are not concerned with the confines of genre and just are looking to put together the best music they possibly can. CrypticRock gives London Road 5 of 5 stars.