A Tale of Two CitiesThe Southwest of England has never been known as a hard rock or metal stronghold and is more famous for trip hop and a surprisingly large number of second division punk bands. Can A Tale of Two Cities put their region on the metal map?

This four track EP, the optimistically titled “New Horizons” is released in advance of their debut album. I’m unaware of their studio plans but, guys, I hope you’ve kept the same producer, because he’s done a great job here. Every song practically leaps out of the speakers at you and the mix does every member of the band proud. There’s brilliant separation and clarity, but just enough dirt in the vocals to stop it getting too polished. So it all SOUNDS great, but do I like it?

Well, I guess you’d call A Tale of Two Cities alt-rock, which personally makes me think it’s the alternative to rock, and in my opinion that’s not far from the truth in a lot of cases. Whilst there is some fine twin guitar playing, thunderous drums and on ‘Familiar Traits’ and the Linkin Park-esque ‘Machine’ some dirty, death style and screamo vocals, in general this is too restrained to excite me. My problem with a lot of mainstream, very popular rock bands is the wishy washy, semi-mystical vagueness of the songs.

Coldplay are the masters of this lyrically nebulous universe. The words are seemingly chosen to enable the band to emote without ever really saying anything of substance. Tell us a story, please! Stick some Chuck Berry on lads, he’ll show you the way.

Despite my misgivings I have to admit opening track ‘Four Words’ has rock radio hit stamped into its very DNA. It is urgent, dramatic, wastes no time getting to its soaring chorus and just too damn good to ignore. If they can marry the musical prowess shown here to some meatier lyrics then the album could be a winner.

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