There is something to be said for bands that hone their craft and take their time before releasing their first full-length album—there are few things as good as a debut album that doesn’t feel like a debut. No awkwardness, none of the unsureness of sound or the self-conscious explorations of identity, but all the raw energy and unpolished integrity of a band that have yet to be swept up by ‘the industry’. Everything I’ve Learnt from Belfast’s More Than Conquerors is one of these anti-debuts. Taking their cues from the post-hardcore greats like Reuben, Hundred Reasons and Brand New, this is a band who has been playing since 2009, and you can tell.
The album wastes no time in launching straight into Danny Ball’s explosive riffs with All That We Can. Following the thundering percussion and grungey, dark guitar of the opening bars, Kris Platt’s vocals take you by surprise; reedy and melodic with a strong Irish lilt, his voice has a softening effect on the music, making it feel more personal.
With a name taken from a bible quotation, More Than Conquerors’ lyrics unsurprisingly explore issues of faith throughout the album. “What if there is no heaven or hell?” questions Platt on Jaw, next confessing that he “only talks to God when there is something [he needs]” on When the Well Runs Dry. Themes like this are nothing new in rock music, but Platt’s high vocals are almost delicate, taking the lyrics away from the cliched, ensuring that the emotional turmoil that can lie in such grand questions only serves to intensify the music.
There is a strong sense of Biffy Clyro circa Blackened Sky with this album: the catchy hooks, the melodies, the heartfelt lyrics, the yet untapped stadium rock potential. They employ the loud-quiet-loud device that Nirvana once perfected to great effect—Six Weeks for example is hauntingly catchy, taking you from Platt’s quietly echoing questions to the heavy chorus. Bring Me to the Bloodbank is the quietest moment on the album. Taking away the fierceness of the other songs, it puts Platt centre stage, building the song around his voice.
Undoubtedly, More Than Conquerors have found a sound formula that works for them and with a formula there is always a danger of falling into the ‘samey’ category. Admittedly there are no surprises on the album and the bands who create the greatest albums are the ones who take risks. Sometimes the experiments work, sometimes they don’t, but they keep the listener gripped. Nonetheless, for a first effort, this is an impressive piece of work. Its melodies, emotion and Platt’s carefully delicate vocals make for addictive listening. These are tunes that will conquer your consciousness.
Standout Tracks: All That We Can, Bring Me to the Bloodbank, When the Well Runs Dry
For Fans Of: Biffy Clyro, Brand New, Reuben, Twin Atlantic
Written By: Angie Audretsch