Review : Sobriquet – Birds of Prey

If there’s one thing you can say about Sheffield post-hardcore outfit Sobriquet, it is that they are never outgunned. Having taken a year out of writing they returned with the blistering ‘Akeldama’ EP in late 2017, solidifying their reputation as a band that take adversity and turn it inside-out. They emerged laughing from the shadows and brought with them an EP of power and disarming melody, proving themselves skilled songwriters as well as skilled musicians. They have continued the trend of defiance with the blistering new single ‘Birds of Prey’, a venomous track whose intentions are laudable, spitting in the face of drink-spikers, and sexual predators – ‘vultures’, as the song has them.

Before we say anything else something must be noted. Sobriquet, though they tout themselves as such, are not a post-hardcore band. I’m not really sure what one is although I think I know what they mean. If they mean sort of latter-day Bring Me the Horizon or a poppier Black Flag then that’s not what they are. If they don’t then I am a fool and I’m not sure what they’re getting at. On the evidence of ‘Birds of PreySobriquet are more of an Alt-Rock band with Screamo vocals than anything else. ‘Birds of Prey’ is anthemic and powerful in places with a chorus that soars. This is a band endowed with more of an ear for melody than they perhaps would like to admit.

Birds of Prey’ is a track driven by the power of its guitars and drums so it is a shame that the production removes a lot of that power. There is heart-stopping impact to be had in this song and it isn’t quite achieved, with the drums too brittle-sounding to offer a platform to the guitar. It is under-produced.

That said, ‘Birds of Prey’ is mightily impressive in that despite some underwhelming production it showcases a talented group of musicians who are intelligent and well-versed songwriters. The song showcases a diverse range of influences that aren’t altogether obvious, taking us on a tour through Machinhead and Faith No More, even bands like AC/DC and Foo Fighters get a look-in. The guitars snarl and spike through the verses before building to an explosive release in the chorus, which in parts recalls Papa Roach at their best.

Birds of Prey’ is a song that continues to unfurl as it goes, blossoming into a thunderous, almost sun-kissed Alternative Rock song, with the 90s influences becoming more pronounced as it goes, the subtle inflections of guitar experimentation give a glimpse into the smartness and intricacy of Sobriquet’s songwriting. The influence of Faith No More becomes clearer as the song tears along. ‘Birds of Prey’ is a song of wit and fury that wears its influences on its sleeve.

There is also a delicious contrast at play throughout the song, showcasing the songwriting intelligence of the band. As the music becomes bigger and brighter, so the lyrics and vocals darken, with the two facets of the song working in parallel motion yet never feeling ill-matched. The vocals are evocative in parts of Gerard Way in those very early post-9/11 days, when My Chemical Romance were an altogether heavier prospect. The magnificently-named Ludovico Fahey is a formidable and versatile rock vocalist.

Yes, he doesn’t have the gargantuan range that you find in more melodramatic heavy rock bands but if anything that makes his delivery more focused and more venomous, as he rasps, snarls, spits and soars through the song with passion and gusto. It’s a good thing too because these are furious lyrics, addressing some of the most grotesque monstrosities in our society with damning bile – ‘why is it so easy for a vulture to steal away into the night?’

All in all, ‘Birds of Prey’ is a deceptively melodious, deftly constructed powerhouse of a song that takes no prisoners, makes no compromise and is indicative of a band not afraid to celebrate the music the music that formed their sound. Sobriquet are developing at a blistering rate after taking some time out. If ‘Birds of Prey’ is anything to go by the future looks almost sun-kissed.

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