Sound — 9
Glaswegian rockers Mason Hill have just launched their music career in style with the release of their self-titled debut EP. After touring Scotland for two years, honing their sound, the band have taken the step up to produce their first recorded studio effort, and it's full of exciting material from start to finish! There are several keys aspects that make this EP the success that it truly is, and provided the band work out a couple of kinks, they seem like a really exciting prospect for the future.
The EP explodes into life with Survive, delivering a heavy, groove fueled riff to start things off. It only get better as the initial riff is replaced by a slightly more sparse verse, giving room for Scott Allan Taylor's powerful vocals to take centre stage. His voice has tremendous gravitas and grit to it, which really propels the song to new level. The chorus is tremendously catchy as the powerful vocals soar over an excellent chord progression, involving orchestrated pushes from the whole band, to give it great emphasis and direction. This is probably the album's most eye catching song, full of energy, great riffs, gripping vocals and catchy hooks! A great opener.
Lyrics — 7
These features are apparent throughout the album as "Your Memory" delivers an equally heavy riff to kick things off, but really comes into its own in the verse; the riff here is excellent, it's groovy, leaves space to be filled by the vocals and develop musically. As the kick drum starts driving the song forward, and the guitars parts flesh out, the song is incredibly captivating and engaging; before it drops back to a lone clean guitar part for textural and dynamic variation. Unfortunately, the chorus doesn't quite provide the Alter Bridge style climax that the song deserves as the rhythm on the guitars is too staggered, and suited more to a verse than a chorus. Taylor's vocals attempt to give the song a memorable hook, but struggle to accomplish this within the constraints of the riffs. When the song reaches the final chorus however, the section is sufficiently fleshed out with a wealth of guitar parts, a more driving drum beat and impressive backing vocals to support the lead line.
"Now You See Me" is a remarkably different story as, although the riffs aren't quite as attention grabbing as the previous two, the song works fantastically well together with no weak points throughout. The verse is groovy (a common and very enjoyable aspect), and the chorus provides a memorable and well worked hook. The song only improves as it climaxes out of the solo section. With well placed stops emphasising the transition back to the chorus, pushing the vocals to the forefront of our attention. This final chorus develops nicely, incorporating a great backing vocal hook, and introducing an excellent solo to support, and give that really climactic feeling to the section.
Overall Impression — 9
After 3 full throttle tracks, "Where I Belong" provides a nice change of pace; displaying a softer side to the Glaswegian quartet. The guitar-work in this song is excellent, while acting as a lone backing to the vocals initially, it moves through a number of chords, and includes nice variation and movement to give shape to the vocal melody floating over the top. The emotional delivery of the vocals is powerful and heartfelt, speaking of a longing to fit in; it's a subject that many can relate to and is told exceptionally to create a real connection with the listen. James Bird on guitar holds the real key to what makes this song great however, his solo climbs, builds, rises and falls exceptionally over a variety of textures, to suit the music, and take you on an incredible journey, representative of the journey one takes to find themselves, which is alluded to in the lyrics that follow. It's a really well-developed and thoroughly thought through song, and possible the best on the EP.
While the EP starts out like so many other rock bands', delivering fast paced, groove filled, all out action riffs, backed by emphatic drumming, and topped with memorable, catchy hooks and powerful lyrics; it progresses further than this as the band begin to show that they're more than that: "Now You See Me" is very well-crafted, and well-balanced song, though it maybe misses some of the attention grabbing riffs of the first two tracks. Then the emotional journey of "Where I Belong" shows the full range of music Mason Hill have to offer. With a little bit of fine tuning to their tracks and a slightly more impactive mix and master to round off some of the edges, I'm confident that this band will accomplish great things in the future. A fantastic debut effort!