Music Reviews

Album Review: Drenge – Strange Creatures

An intoxicating invitation into an expansive void of darkness, the Loveless brothers have concocted an impressive platform for the future with their third release.

Since the Loveless brothers, Eoin (vocals) and younger brother Rory (drums), first formed Drenge in 2010, British underground rock music has transitioned into a dark, twisting beast with the emergence of Royal Blood, Darlia and The Wytches. In 2013, the duo released a growling self-titled debut-record before relocating from their native Derbyshire to Sheffield in 2014. A year later, the duo brought out a well-received second record in Undertow and with four years having passed since, Strange Creatures is an audacious return with an enthralling chasm of noise fortified by a diverse array of synth amalgamations.

Strange Creatures takes the listener on a winding path through unknown territory”

Drenge have been a band enraptured by darkness ever since their debut release, but the duo’s third record highlights a scintillating development in Eoin Loveless’s skill as a narrator. As a whole, Strange Creatures takes the listener on a winding path through unknown territory where classes and societies contrast, where even the most positive scenarios turn sour.

Jazz-rock crossover ‘Prom Night’ is a masterpiece in narrative songwriting, flowing down an avenue undisturbed in past ventures. Eoin’s tendency to envelop darkness into the lightest of spaces is stretched to new extremes, as he delicately unravels the massacre of an innocent high school prom. ‘Bonfire of the City Boys’ is an impressive spoken-word album opener. Eoin’s sharp-tongued urgency demands attention from the very beginning whilst musically, the track builds to an explosive crescendo, ripe for mosh pits and festival stages.

“A more complex and bolstered range of instrumentation”

On Strange Creatures, the Loveless brothers have managed to carry the best of their previous two records into a new and promising era, sonically conveying a more complex and bolstered range of instrumentation. ‘This Dance’ combines expansive, Klaxons-esque guitar work with a rifling drum beat courtesy of Rory Loveless. As a rock single, it is ferocious and energetic, laden with swaggering guitar lines which instantly embed into the psyche of the listener.

‘Avalanches’ is a slow-crawling masterpiece”

An incandescent dramaticism lies at the heart of ‘Teenage Love’, in which lurching 1980s synths eerily connect to the cult-like chants of Eoin’s vocals, which joltily protrude amongst sci-fi landscaping and a crescendo of pulsating effects. ‘Autonomy’ embraces a host of rock influences, with classic rock at its roots whilst ‘Avalanches’ is a slow-crawling masterpiece, in which a back-wall of guitar is sparked into life by a simple yet effective synth line which lifts the single, whilst Eoin’s textured vocals smooth the distorted yet fascinating offering.

“At the very root of many tracks lies the same joyously dark rock heart that fans fell in love with from the very beginning”

Having managed to sonically expand to new and diverse heights, at the very root of many tracks lies the same joyously dark rock heart that fans fell in love with from the very beginning. The record’s experimentation projects a fresh image of the band, but still retains the duo’s presence as a live tour de force, such is the nature of Eoin’s swaggering guitar line. The album’s title track is an impressive beast of a single borrowing from the very core of New York alternative rock legends Interpol. Urgent vocals alarming ring out aside laser-sharp guitars, before harking backing vocals conclude the unique venture.

‘No Flesh Road’… is a churning rock single, falling flat and failing to impress”

Whilst the record is certainly elevated to a new platform, it is not a perfect offering from the Loveless brothers. ‘Never See the Signs’ lacks a distinctive edge but to its credit remains purposeful and workmanlike. ‘No Flesh Road’ on the other hand is a churning rock single, falling flat and failing to impress, with the only sign of life appearing in the form of a lengthy instrumental breakdown.

Despite a few small hurdles, it is impossible not to be impressed with how the band have diversified their sound regarding drum patterns and additional instrumentation. What used to be a distinctly one-dimensional joy has evolved into a fresh wall of sound, one that keeps you on edge, always wondering where the band will go next, and it is this feature which can make Drenge an exciting prospect moving forward.


Ben Standring

Featured Image courtesy of Drenge Official Facebook Page.

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