For a band that only went public in October 2017, Winchester really have popped up from nowhere as they drop their debut album just four months later. The post-hardcore three-piece’s self-released Life Begins At These Dead Ends is interesting in its narrative, with the six-word title split up between three songs throughout the track-listing, adding an effective subtlety that implies a deeper concept yet to be revealed.
The intro to title track part 1 ‘Life Begins’ is a very promising start as lead vocalist/bassist Adam Catalan’s soothing tones and distressing lyrics are accompanied only by a chilling lead guitar melody leaving you unprepared for the distortion to come. However, the gravely, unclean vocals and grunge-like, rumbling guitar in the second section completely contradict the beautifully poetic intro as the chaos just doesn’t feel appropriate.
‘Safe in Sound’ approaches this mysterious theme far better however, as the dark, atmospheric piano intro sets the track off to a more melodic pace, although its clashing transition from previous track ‘Animal’ gets it off on a bad foot. The opening piano note in ‘Safe in Sound’ automatically diminishes ‘Animals’s slow, creepy ending, giving the impression that both these sections are two sides of the same coin which just don’t mix well in concession. Despite this, at its heart, the metalcore-esque chorus is empowering and emotive, with the intended genre made clear throughout.
Radio-friendly single ‘Diamond’ features another killer chorus as well as unifying harmonies between Catalan and backing vocalist/guitarist Scott Mahoney. The Biffy Clyro and Funeral For A Friend influences reign clear here with a more alt rock feel.
Despite being the final third of the title track sequence, album closer ‘Dead Ends’ is rather an anti-climax with flat-feeling vocals and a dull, uninspired chorus. Elements of Marmozets can be heard in the disjointed breakdown with interesting drums fills which manage to spice it up at times. Although, overall this six minute track doesn’t contain enough variation compared to others, causing it to drag out and become quite literally a dead end to the album.
Winchester’s debut really does highlight their strengths, however, this just makes the contrast in quality between songs even more obvious. Each track feels like marmite at times and the discordant jumps between sub-genres gives the impression they still need to figure out what genre they’re actually going for.