'Low' - THECITYISOURS / Turned Up Louder
Working tirelessly since 2015, TheCityIsOurs have become well-loved members of the UK metalcore scene, especially in southern cities and all sorts of UK festivals, including several small ones and, more recently, the biggest rock and metal festival of them all, Download. After all this hard work, their debut album ‘Low’ is a refreshing new start for the band, taking their established sound and hugely ramping it up. Guitarist Mikey Page has said of the first single on the record, “Bare Bones was the first track we wrote with this new attitude and it symbolised a fresh start for the band. The song is about taking the obstacles we’ve faced, along with the metaphorical ashes of who we were and rebuilding ourselves.”
‘Low’ begins with short introductory track Ashes, slow and atmospheric before a breakdown hits; sonically similar to the likes of Architects and In Hearts Wake, it works perfectly to build anticipation for the rest of the album, which, honestly, will not let you down.
And so we’ve reached the aforementioned Bare Bones, featuring Connor Hallisey of Our Hollow, Our Home. Bounciness and heaviness alternate, so this could be a perfect candidate for lifting energy levels at shows, where the band excel and are only getting better year by year.
Casket follows, another single which is less bouncy but IMPOSSIBLY catchy. The clean chorus reflects what they’ve done in the past – and that’s not a bad thing, considering tunes like 2016’s ‘Wildfire’ got them a lot of attention with these hooks. Here, the band experiment with some electronic sounds whilst keeping the song very heavy, and it’s impressive to see the lending from current trends without losing any of their individuality, or, indeed, their audible passion.
With both electronic aspects and piano, Veins comes across differently, and is emotional, with a lyrical reference to their earlier song ‘The Life In You’, and continuing to discuss difficult subjects surrounding grief. Difficult cleans and layered screams add to the spirit of the track, and whilst this band’s vocals were always okay, here they truly show how seriously they’ve stepped up their game.
This eases us into Now That You’re Gone, a song focusing on lyrics about grief on top of slow-paced, pleasant music that’s easy on the ear. Guitars give the feeling of a metalcore ballad, so the song feels natural within this album, especially as the band never shy away from being emotive in their music. Again, this is so stepped-up from the EPs, giving the same feelings but in a slightly new style so the record is already diverse.
The next tracks take us straight back to a more bouncy, fun vibe. For some classic TheCityIsOurs, look no further than the title-track, Low. Less experimental than the rest of the tracks, but with a very much refined sound, this picks the energy back up and gives us some introspective lyrics to think about. This is followed by Don’t Wait For Me which, similarly, is energetic but softer, showing a less heavy side to the band.
Just as the album’s in danger of losing momentum and becoming too generic, Incomplete begins. The intro could fool you into thinking it’s going to be the same again, then the song really kicks in. More layered screams are complimented by heavy guitar, and we’re thrown into a whirlwind of simple, complex, catchy, heavy, choppy, and we even get a few ‘blegh’ breakdowns. The only way to close this type of stand-out track is with a dramatic-feeling ending, and that’s delivered, too.
If You Know You Know and Sacred are two songs which really showcase the musical and writing ability of the band. The former leans slightly towards the so-called ‘nu-metalcore’ that’s become popular over the last few years, with rhythmic guitars, a nu-type beat, a half-time pre-chorus and rap-style vocals at some points. The latter is very guitar-centric, with very heavy parts, squeals and a ballad-ish solo complimented by some gang vocals.
Closing the album, we have Here At All, slow in parts, heavy in parts, never losing its emotional intensity. Lyrics, again, are centred around grief, this time specifically the feeling when we’ve lost someone and momentarily think they’re still around. Delivered with all the vehemence needed to suit the lyrics, this song can hit home with “I forget you’re not here at all”.
So, TheCityIsOurs have stepped up their game with the new start that self-released ‘Low’ has brought them. Less one-paced, more refined and gratifyingly diverse, their debut album takes their sound to a more professional level. Vocals have clearly improved, and production sounds better; the record was recorded, engineered, mixed and mastered by Oz Craggs, who’s worked with the likes of Neck Deep and Mallory Knox. This, combined with the band’s creativity, willingness to experiment and musical talent makes ‘Low’ a record that’s NOT to be slept on by anyone who enjoys metalcore!
'Low' is out now as a self-release.
Watch the music video for 'Bare Bones' here: