EP Review: Harsh Language – Distortions

Check out our review of the debut release of the genre-defying one man project – Harsh Language…

Sean Shreeve is a musician who’s already left an indelible mark on British alternative music, thanks to his time in bands such as Freeze The Atlantic and Spectrum 7. If you haven’t heard of either of these, chances are some of your favourite bands would cite them as influences.

Now he’s looking to flex his creative muscles further in the form of Distortions, the debut release of his one man project – Harsh Language. But with such pedigree, does it live up to the hype? Read on, as we go track by track to find out…

Harsh Language - Imperial Bedrooms (Stock footage lyric video)

The first thing you’ll notice is just how much is going on over the course of these 8 tracks. An electronic, almost chiptune bed offers the perfect foundation for the groove of classic post hardcore riffs to sit atop of. 

The instrumental opener Interlude to Nothing and the subsequent Imperial Bedrooms offer a perfect taste of what’s to come. They both exude an energetic, ethereal vibe that would complement a JRPG or anime fight scene. Dreamy without lacking in bite. 

The angst is dialled up in Capsized, evoking the spirit of My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. It balances raw emotion with a confident swagger, like few can. Lyrically, it’s one of the most intimate tracks on the record – bitter, yet with an underlying message of defiance. The soaring vocals really stand out here, and I can imagine them going down a treat at liveshows. 

Next up is my personal favourite moment on the record, Thirty Four. Another instrumental track, it demonstrates the prowess of Shreeve’s work as a producer, even on his debut record. Sonically ambitious, it goes from crushing riffs to more sombre electronic moments. It’s a composition of impressive craft.

The soft electronic opening of My Anemone belies what’s to come. It has a guitar tone that borders on black metal, with heavily distorted picking sections. A melancholic bed of keys juxtaposes to create some of the most aggressive, cathartic moments on the record. It’s a wall of sound that the more you listen to, the more you unpack. 

What Success Looks Like fits the more traditional post-hardcore formula, and is the most reminiscent of its forebears such as Hundred Reasons and Reuben. With that being said, this is by no means a criticism, and combines what has come before with chiptune beats to achieve a contemporary take on one of the most underrated genres of the 20th century.

All too soon, the EP closes with the aptly named Eulogy. The use of classical strings mixed with the overdriven guitar is reminiscent of the best of Silversun Pickups, building to a crescendo of noise fit to close any record. 

To wrap up, Distortions is the most accomplished, versatile debut release I’ve heard this year.   

As much as I wax lyrical about the golden days of British post hardcore, it’s a genre that always felt it had had its day. But the inclusion of samples, synths and avante garde sounds demonstrates how there’s still plenty of innovation in the right creative hands. 

Beyond the technical nuance, it’s a personal sonic journey that serves as a diary as much as it does a record. You’ll feel the pathos and aggression, but the prevailing sense I got coming away from it was optimism, and with that in mind, I hope this is just the start of what we can expect from Harsh Language.

Listen to Distortions here!

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<strong>Tom Baker</strong>
Tom Baker

I like Star Wars, heavy metal and BBQ Pringles.

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