Shame – their sound certainly don’t reflect their name. With the release of their debut, Songs of Praise, we’ve had the south London quintet’s ten commandments of truths oozing their way through our eardrums for the past week. The group have been cracking pavements and stomping their way through rampant basements for the past year spreading their filthy wings, and now they’re ready to take the nation by storm as they creep out from their crypt of raging truths.
The album opens with Dust on Trial, a tension building track in which you can almost envisage vocalist Charlie Steen grinding his teeth ‘til the point of shatter. His gloomy voice grows from a haunting whisper in the background into a powerful roar, his spit dripping down your cheek with each ferocious line. As Sean Coyle-Smith and Eddie Green’s guitars climb higher so will your rage as that is what this track evokes, it’ll turn almost anybody from a peaceful tree hugging hippy into an angsty adolescent ready to stomp their way towards any injustice they can seek.
With the band only beginning to release content mid-2016 we have to expect music we’ve already heard to be included in the album, however, one slight thing that disappointed us a little is that there’s five already released singles. Yes, half the album. Nonetheless we couldn’t imagine this piece without those tracks, in this order.
Next up we tear into a certified anthem, Concrete, which will surely leave your feet pounding and cracking through the slabs below as you plug in and buck up. With sharp aggro fuelled punches and gloomy driven bridges Concrete is a thriller from start to finish.
The album moves from track to track with sheer fluidity. Tasteless is more forceful that what came before and acts like a buffer right before this record really picks up the pace. And from there we move into Donk, like the name implies, it’s fast and filthy with grinding guitars that will pummel their way deep into your chest as they drive down and down into spiralling chaos. Pure teeth gritting, chin swinging beats.
This album can be distinctly split into three chapters; and now it’s time for the final trio of tunes. The first is Friction, an interrogational tune filled with moral rule. Tongue teasing its way down your ear canal on the way to infiltrate your brain and fill it with guilt.
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Lampoon lines up to be the penultimate, coming through with rabid lyrics that seamlessly roll out of Steen’s mouth in a possessed manner, although he’s Charles Manson speaking to his hopeless following. Steen might as well be the messiah with how well this number is pulled off. It’s sure to send any room of post teens into a scrambling ball of fury. If you’ve ever seen Shame live you’ll know the direction and passion behind each word. This is the most fitting track to smash up your pal’s basement to.
Closing the curtain is Angie, a slow ballad of love, lust and loss. “She lies untouched, innocent and pure, my only hope, my only cure” says Charlie in a monotonous tone before the guitars chime into motion. Emotional, raw and unadulterated, as far as love songs go, this is one in its purest form.
In conclusion, shame have grafted their way out of Brixton‘s pubs and into the mainstream. Infecting the charts with their witty, intellectual storytelling and we don’t think they’re budging for one moment. Picking up an army of comrades throughout Europe as they’ve hacked the festival circuit to absolute pieces they’re ready to smash down the fucking wall and march into your heart, brandishing mics instead of killer spikes.
Songs of Praise is a treat from start to finish, each song is intricately stitched together providing the perfect narrative to your Saturday night stumbling. Or any time of the week for that matter. Honest and unabashed, we’ve fallen in love. You should too.