Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Fragile Things' 'Broken Sun' - EP Review

Since leaving Heaven's Basement in 2010, when the now-defunct band were in a real ascendancy, Richie Hevanz has led a relatively low-key musical life. His former band rose in stature in his absence, and became a well-known name in the rock world, before eventually officially calling it a day in January. While I always followed and enjoyed Heaven's Basement post-Hevanz, it was his sleazy vocal performances that really made the band special in my eyes. I always felt it was a shame that his vocals and songwriting skills were no longer being showcased, but last year he announced his new band Fragile Things and has been busy recording and touring with the four-piece ever since. Guitarist Mark Hanlon, bassist Steve Lathwell, and drummer Hugo Bowman join Hevanz in Fragile Things, and their debut EP Broken Sun really showcases this new band's talents and songwriting prowess. Despite only being four songs in length Broken Sun is an impressive debut release and has been long-time coming, eventually seeing a full release last month. Physical copies had been available at gigs for some time, but February saw the EP's official release. With a sound that is, at times, not unlike those early Heaven's Basement songs, Broken Sun is a great mix of 1980s-style hard rock with modern sensibilities. It is heavy in places, but packed full of melody that makes the most of Hevanz' unique and distinct voice. While Hevanz, Hanlon, and Lathwell were previously in a band together called Endless Mile, this band almost totally passed me by so Fragile Things is my first proper exposure to Hevanz' work since the self-titled Heaven's Basement EP back in 2008!

The EP opens in fine fashion with Enemy is I which has a strong 1980s-style guitar riff, and a great upbeat vibe that just grabs you by the throat and ever lets go throughout it's 3 minute duration. The verses are great, with distorted guitar trills and a wild drum pattern from Bowman that perfectly suits Hevanz' urgent vocals. The chorus is somewhat slower, and packed full of groove with a tight riff and some great vocal harmonies from the entire band. The anthemic qualities of the song shine through here, and Heaven's Basement fans aught to really enjoy it. Open Cage is not as furious, but it is still packed full of great classic rock swagger with a muscular bluesy riff and a great growling bassline that dominates throughout. The instrumentation often drops out during the verses to shine the spotlight on the verses, which works really well and has a subtle call-and-response quality that turns out to be pretty infectious. Like previously, the chorus is slower. While not on the same level as that of the previous song's chorus, it still packs a punch. A heavy riff-driven instrumental section partway through soon morphs into a shredding solo which gives Hanlon a platform to show off. His leads and soloing are extremely tasteful throughout, although he can really let rip when the song demands it. Opening with a great bass melody, the EP's title track soon kicks in with a sleazy riff that is one of the EP's most exciting moments. This is easily the best song on this EP, and mixed melody with rock power perfectly. The verses are somewhat more low key, with a less in-your-face arrangement, but the song builds towards the stadium-worthy chorus which will stick in your head after a single listen. The Def Leppard-esque backing vocals really help to enhance the melodies, and Hevanz belts out the lyrics with the same venom and power he was doing almost ten years ago for Heaven's Basement. A wah-drenched guitar solo is the icing on the cake, and caps off a song which shows this band could potentially have a great future. So Cold is the final number on the EP, and sticks to the same hard rock formula as the other three songs. The staccato riff is powerful, and is one that is sure to see a lot of movement when the band play it live to a big crowd. As with all the other songs here, the chorus is the main focus and showcases some impressive extended notes from Hevanz as a modern-sounding riff grinds away underneath him. While only four songs in length, Broken Sun shows a band that certainly has a lot of potential. There is not a weak moment here, and the production is big and meaty. I will be interested to see where the band go from here, as some of the newer songs that I heard when I saw them live a couple of months ago have a bit of a different vibe to those heard on this EP. Diversity is always good however, and I await their next release eagerly.

The self-released EP was released on 17th February 2017. Below is the band's promotional lyric video for Broken Sun.

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