Amongst Thieves are a 5 piece, post-hardcore band from York in the UK. They released their debut self titled album on the 20th of February this year having previously released 2 EPs and a couple singles. Those EPs, Revise.Reform and March for the Sun, did quite well and saw the band feature on the main pages of Rocksound.
As a band they have been together since 2013 and consist of Josh Nash on vocals and both Alex Morgan and Ricky Kwong on the guitars. James Thurlby is the bassist and Andy Ackroyd is on drums. Amongst Thieves, aside from having a pretty cool band name, play a type of post-hardcore. I am not a huge hardcore fan and I also don’t like the genre names that start with post. Post rock, post metal, post hardcore. I don’t even like postmen though that isn’t related.
It isn’t necessarily that there is a sound or style in “post” that I don’t like. I just can’t help seeing post as meaning “after” rather than “enhanced”. Post apocalypse means after the apocalypse. Not, well, there are apocalypses and then there are slightly cooler, more open minded apocalypses with good beards.
So I don’t like “post” and I don’t really like hardcore. This is maybe not the ideal start to a new album. Thankfully Amongst Thieves, the album and the band, have made me realise that while I don’t like those words separately, put them together and post-hardcore is actually pretty cool. Well, mostly.
Amongst Thieves has 11 tracks on it and is around 37 minutes long. Musically there are lots of really cool and interesting things happening here. There are flaws too though – common flaws in hardcore/metalcore actually with moments of monotony and a fair bit of predictability.
The album opening track, Nothing Left, has a really cool sounding intro. It almost feels horror themed with a child’s toy sort of noise. I really like it and it is a great way to start an album. The song kicks in after the intro builds with an okay riff. The bass is very prominent which is good to hear but the drums just don’t sound like they have much oomph. They are just a little flat and tappy. To be fair, the oomph comes when the vocals join in. Raspy vocals spat out at pace oversee a slight change up to the riff and drum beat and it sounds strong. It has a bit of a metalcore feel to it all.
Now, with absolute certainty on a post-hardcore/metalcore album we know we are going to get mixed vocals with heavy turning to clean and vice versa. That’s okay. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. With Amongst Thieves, it works really well. The reason, I think, it works is because there isn’t just a straight up contrast of clean and harsh vocals. Here we also get a multitude of other vocal tones and ranges in the transitions between harsh and clean. As well as that, Amongst Thieves avoid using a predictable pattern of harsh verse/clean chorus and instead manage to switch between styles regularly. Even in the same sentences!
Basically Josh Nash is one hell of a singer and seems to switch seamlessly between raspy vocals and cleans within a single line and while hitting a few other tones in between. This makes their music really exciting to listen to. It makes the vocals almost completely unpredictable. I say almost because they seem to use this clever style mainly in the verses, often allowing the choruses to be mainly clean.
Nothing Left has immensely interesting vocals in the verses and a catchy clean chorus but it does annoy me by constantly stopping. Seriously, stop stopping. Little musical pauses that only last half a second or a second are okay every now and then but it happens a fair few times on the first track and it ruins the flow. It happen one or twice on Absent Minds but is used better there as it introduces a change in sound. Amongst Thieves certainly seem to have mastered interesting and catchy choruses as well. The chorus to Nothing Left is good while the chorus to Blind is great. Blind also sounds really familiar to me but I don’t know where from – maybe it got a bit of radio play or something or featured somewhere else? Let me know in the comments if you know.
The Golden Ratio has one of the most singable choruses I have heard in a long time. It is very, very clever and then there is The Silence which is just a brilliant song. Absolutely great. It has a chunky riff starting it off and the drums sound meaty here. The verses are viciously spat out before we get a mix of cleans and gruff vocals leading into a really catchy chorus. The song has real pace and the drumming is really impressive from Andy Ackroyd.
Amongst Thieves definitely have plenty of good things going for them. A couple of the songs on here are absolute crackers. The Silence, Blind and The Golden Ratio easily fit into this bracket. Many of the songs have brilliant choruses and there are moments of really good riffing and solid drumming. I don’t think there is a song on this album that I dislike completely. There are moments though. I know it comes with the genre but I am not a fan of synth and effects. Used gently and sparingly, they can enhance a song but overuse turns me off.
The intro to Hate Again is an example of it done well. The effects are bedded in nicely with the riff giving it an industrial metal feel. Future First is the opposite – I really don’t like the effect at the beginning and, while it is drowned out at first by the guitars, it soon comes back quite prominently. It feels a bit dubstep and gives me nightmares of Korn albums of recent years.
My last negative is that sometimes the riffs are a little predictable and I would have loved to have a little guitar solo or flourish here and there. Something like the acoustic section on the end track All I Know which adds a lot to that song. I think it would have really broken up some of the other tracks. The thing is, a lot of these small negatives are personal taste things and I am sure there are plenty of people who like the effects and the riffs.
What I must point out though is that I think Amongst Thieves is a really good album. It is a very good debut and the band show a lot of signs of promise. They are blessed with an immensely talented singer and the rest of the band are obviously highly skilled too. I would like to see them add a bit more meat to the drums and a bit more excitement and creativity to some of the guitar sections. Really let loose. I would also like less effects but that is my own preference. Either way, Amongst Thieves the album will be getting a decent amount of play from me and I will be watching the band carefully for future releases and information. You should too.
Amongst Thieves is available now on all the usual streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify. You can pick up tracks, and give them a try first below. You can also pick up Amongst Thieves on Amazon by clicking the links below. Check out the band on Facebook and Twitter for more information. You can also learn more at the band’s own website.
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Amongst Thieves by Amongst Thieves (Self Released)
- The Final Score - 7/107/10