London's As Lions are not ones to rest on their laurels. Despite releasing EP Aftermath towards the back end of last year, the quintet have already made their return; this time with a full LP release. With all this taking place within a mere 18 months – As Lions are a band that evidently, are looking to strike while the iron is hot.
Selfish Age sees the quintet apply the thick rock and roll tones found on Aftermath to a broader, more ambitious scale. The result is a record that while polished and clean, ultimately appears as a lacklustre attempt to become the leaders of the British rock scene. While more dexterous and interesting than bands of their ilk such as You Me At Six and Young Guns, As Lions don’t quite do enough here to cement themselves as future frontrunners of the genre.
The biggest downfall of Selfish Age is often it’s production, produced by David Bendeth (Paramore, Bring Me The Horizon) and Kane Churko (Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed) the squeaky clean and clear sounds on the album come across as overly processed, and automatically place the record in the same bracket as its competitors. A rougher, more original tone to the album would have gone a long way to giving the band some ingenuity.
‘The Suffering’ features stomping rhythms slithering throughout the track before being let down by an underwhelmingly soft chorus. While best song on the album ‘Bury My Dead’ is a more poise, punchy affair from vocalist Austin Dickinson which builds softly with the welcome inclusion of piano tones before climaxing with a hefty, aggressive chorus. It’s worthwhile to note that all four tracks from Aftermath are included in the record.
Title track ‘Selfish Age’ brings with it a sense of space and electronica, which is a welcome introduction, but the pacey, energetic chorus is lacking in any real hook. ‘Pieces’ follows in this same vein and is an example that with some tweaking and aggression to the electronic sounds that the band have implemented here As Lions can, in the future, assert themselves as an alternative to some of the blasé bands that float through our radio airwaves on a regular basis.
Both ‘The Fall’ and ‘The Great Escape’ fall into the category of genuine hard rock songs, that pull few punches and make their approach with assaults of venomous edge, with the latter featuring a climactic lead section which is the best 15 seconds on the record. The tracks are bright spots on an album that can be pejoratively dim, but this sound, if pursued and blended well with their electronic edge; is almost certainly the kind of ambience that would see As Lions progress rapidly.
Selfish Age is unfortunately an album that lacks in any real personality or character and comes across as just another British rock record, and the question strikes as to whether the band would have benefited more from this being a second EP with some of the fat trimmed. Despite the moments where As Lions show potential, these are few and far between, and what’s left remaining is an album that has pristine production, but thin substance.
Review by Kristian Pugh