That lockdown has hit the music industry hard is at one and the same time both old news at this point, and yet still masked behind that layer of acknowledgement is the sheer turmoil the last year has caused. For bands on the periphery of the UK rock scene it would be fair to categorise it as make or break. While big bands have had their own challenges, bands I particularly feel for are those who were on the cusp of making it big, thrown into indecision about whether it is really the path for them. Even bands like While She Sleeps contemplated breaking up.
Press to Meco were a band in a similar situation. Here’s To The Fatigue was an enjoyable record, but post-lockdown, the question is not ‘How will the next album build on it?’ but ‘Does the band have the energy and commitment left to try and build on the promise of the last record?’ The answer, at long last, is a resounding yes. Guitarist and vocalist Luke Caley has cultivated a following on Twitch for when he can’t play venues, and the band built a studio to their own specs and then built their best record in it. It isn’t a perfect record but it has energy, spirit, and the joie de vivre of a band reinvigorated and that carries over to the listener. It’s definitely one of the better British rock albums this year.
Instrumental intros are a risk, but the slow and understated way the record kicks off certainly works. The slow crash of the hammer and anvil is characteristic of the monotony of the period the record was born in, but it also channels aggressive energy, and the industrial sound tees up the industrial influences throughout ‘Another Day’. ‘Smouldering Sticks’ cranks it up another notch with a grungy guitar tone but edged with flecks of the industrial influence too. With the skittering echoed drums it actually sounds a little like a Lighting Bolt song, if it slowed it down to about half speed.
‘Transmute’ is an energetic, sonically diverse third record, their best so far and one of the better British rock records of this year
The record is absolutely at its best when it is taking its influences and energy by the scruff of the neck. ‘Baby Steps’ invokes the best of Don Broco with the poppy feel in spite of the low guitars. ‘Rusty Nails’ and ‘Gold’ are other highlights in this regard. There’s no real duds on here but the interlude and ‘Overdue’ are kind of superfluous. The chorus on ‘A Test of Our Resolve’ feels like it wastes the potential of the verses that are noticeably heavier. The intro to ‘Sabotage’ sounds a little too like a downtuned version of Muse’s ‘Unnatural Selection’, and the vocals feel a little too weak here to cut through the instrumental.
Minor complaints, in the grand scheme of things, but enough to remind you that there’s still room for the band to grow – and the rest makes you thankful that they’re still together to do it. ‘Transmute’ is an energetic, sonically diverse third record, their best so far and one of the better British rock records of this year.
WE RECOMMEND: ‘Smouldering Sticks’