Boots & Bones
More Than Conquerors' 'less urgent and more considered' approach pay dividends
More Than Conquerors' anthemic potential has always been best realised in recorded form. While the Belfast band's live performances have often frustrated fans, their 2010 debut self-titled EP led to a Glasgowbury main stage appearance after barely a year together, and it wasn't long before Derry~Londonderry indie label Smalltown America came knocking.
Following the re-release of More Than Conquerors last year, the foursome have been touring the UK relentlessly, winning over a fan base, sharpening their sound and gaining support slots that betray their youth with the likes of Feeder and Jimmy Eat World.
In the relatively long period it has taken to record and release their follow-up, Boots & Bones, More Than Conquerors have had the time and the space to become the band they truly want to be. Appropriately, then, this collection is one that feels and sounds less urgent and more considered.
That is not to say that the band have lost their knack for writing hard-hitting, highly energy songs, but with this release they seem to have smoothed out the jaggedness that previously stifled their emotive alt-rock sound. The stop-start guitar interplay isn't as prominent, which goes to show that they've grown out of the Biffy Clyro mimicking, and none of these new songs are weakened by predictablly overblown crescendos.
Previously released single 'A Lion, A Man' (watch video above) demonstrates this newfound restraint. It drifts pensively into melancholic waters before summoning an impassioned, tidal wave-sized chorus that redeems an otherwise tame closer.
Elsewhere, though, the EP thrashes and fizzes with greater purpose. 'Bear Knuckle Fight' is a mini-mauler with a thick chorus groove; 'The Dear and the Fox' sets Kris Platt's velvety vocals against a noisy backdrop; and opener 'Oh My Son!', the only title without a wild critter reference, is the snappiest, most punk track included, with snarling fight-pop venom coursing through its two and half minutes.
'Hunting For The Whale', meanwhile, is a slow-burning wild card that touches on an altogether more experimental sound. Alas, however, although it demonstrates a willingness to venture outside of the comfort zone, it is one of the more forgettable tracks out of the five.
With as much mosh-pit fodder as there are contagious sing-alongs, More Than Conquerors' ever-strengthening canon is laying the groundwork for some memorable shows. Although at times they play it a little safe, they've shown a songwriting maturity on Boots & Bones that we can only hope their live performances will make the most of.
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