Let’s get something out of the way straight up here. I’ve said this about bands I review before and I’ll say it again for The Howling Tides. These guys are my mates. My band (These Wicked Rivers) play shows with them regularly. We have attended birthday parties of the band member’s families. We have a Facebook Group Chat. We openly poke fun at each other on social media.
This, however, has no effect on how I approach a review to their music. I will say nothing in this review that I would not openly say to their faces. I would explain everything behind my opinions to them as well.
I have, for about 3 years now, been utterly disgusted at how talented the four guys who make up The Howling Tides are. Rob Baynes (Vocals & Lead Guitar), Hayden Kirk (Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals) Luke Lawley (Bass & Backing Vocals) and Steven ‘Herbie’ Herbert (Drums) are barely in their 20’s. When I first met them, they were teenagers. As a result, this has led me to feeling an almost paternal care for them and their development as a band in the time I have known them.
They have recently undergone a makeover. Previously known as Anonymous, they have made the difficult decision to rebrand, change their name, logo, social media profiles and start again. They built up Anonymous over the course of a number of years, first as a cover band and then they started writing their own material. The name Anonymous comes with a number of issues, most prominent among them being that they’re impossible to find on Spotify and other Music streaming sites. So the driving force behind the rebrand is to become more visible. A mature and cool decision.
So, once this rebrand has happened, the key is that they launch it with new music that kicks ass more than the previous music did.
In the past I have sat down with the four lads and told them that once they “grow up a bit, musically” they will start to notice a surge in their popularity and as a result, bigger things will follow. I have a sneaking suspicion that time may be about to begin, because grow up they have…A lot.
They started showing signs of maturity on their previous release (2017’s - What You Deserve). It got them some airplay on Hard Rock Hell Radio and on the podcast for the very publication for which I am writing this review. They recently had themselves a Rock Holiday in Ibiza for HRH Road Trip as well and went down a storm.
Their self-titled debut release under their new moniker moves that on a level…and then some.
Opener ‘Cheap Painkiller’ stomps in with a big, fat, bluesy riff, breaking down to just bass in the verses. There is a big sing along chorus, complete with plenty of “whoa’s” for the crowd to engage in. Rob Baynes has always been in possession of a gritty voice, powerful and with a quite a sizeable range behind it as well. He’s struggled to control it previously. Not here. This track tests him from the off and his performance is excellent. The solo is very tasteful and in keeping with the rest of tune, displaying some excellent technical work from both Baynes and Kirk.
‘Death by Exile’ is next up. Nice guitar work between Hayden and Rob is split by some solid rhythm section work from Herbie and Luke. I have in the past said to their rhythm section that once they develop their “rhythm section telepathy” their song writing would go next level. It seems that telepathy is now present and this track bounds along, Herbie not once overshooting his drum parts and Lawley keeping his bass solid. The backing vocals in the track are nice as well. Simple and understated. This is the kind of thing that was letting them down previously and they have honed it as they’ve gone along.
‘He Told Me’ has been played at their gigs for a while now. It’s got a proper southern drawl to it. The guitar tones the lads have gone for on this EP really suit the tunes they have written. They have a great vintage sound to them and that brings songs like this to life. The chorus is catchy as hell and will be stuck in your head for days (“He told me, your days are numbered, your days are through, your days are numbered, he told me true”). One thing this band has never lacked is an enthusiasm to get their crowd involved at their shows. ‘He Told Me’ has a passage designed perfectly for that, so expect to be dragged in to a sing along!
The first single is ‘Crack My Soul’ which really lays bare the bands Black Stone Cherry influence. Fuzzy guitars, triplet feeling drums and gritty vocals bound the song along with endless enthusiasm. The boys went big on the music video for this tune, which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGQMdsYbNvY.
Final song ‘Running Blind’ is a jump along anthem waiting to happen. I absolutely love Herbies drumming on this. Again he keeps it simple but there are more fills here too. Herbie is an excellent drummer and shows it off on this tune. There are more excellent riffs and great vocal delivery as well.
A word of praise should also be reserved here for Blues-Rock guitarist Aynsley Lister, the man behind the desk at Superfly Studios where this release was recorded and mixed. He has made The Howling Tides sound huge, but not sacrificed that natural feel. This EP is not overproduced, it’s about the songs and his production is excellent.
Older people than me always say that when they are raising their families, they always have proud moments. The first time a child walks. The first time the child goes to school. When they get good exam results. When the child goes to Uni. When they get their first job etc etc.
With this release, The Howling Tides have made me feel a little like a proud parent. They have emerged on to a scene, listened to advice from those around them (not necessarily me, but much more important people than me), began to captivate a crowd and now they have produced an excellent EP to help them usher in their new era.
And now, as a symbolic tear and proud smile adorn my face*, I can finally say, after three years….
The boys have done good.
(*No tears really but I needed it for the analogy to work…)
Check out The Howling Tide at their Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/TheHowlingTides/
Death by Exile
He Told Me
Crack My Soul