Masquerader - 'Nothing Will Change'
'Masquerader' have generated a bit of a buzz in the lead-up to 'Nothing Will Change'. It's well earned since they are one of the most interesting bands in Reading at the moment. For those unaware, it's a three-piece band. Danny Molyneux on vocals and electronics. Tim Williamson on drums and backing vocals. Chris Fry taking on bass and backing vocals. They have been carving out their own DIY space, putting on gigs under the same name as their EP, 'Nothing Will Change'. A testament to their unwavering hard work and passion for their music and community.
The sound is different and varied. Which is notable for a first full release. Guitars are not present and the sound swings between metal, hardcore, and occasionally hip-hop. Opener 'i.am.masquerader' battles with feelings of impostor syndrome. A powerful track that acts as the de facto mission statement of the band. Whilst songs like 'Pressure (Holy Trinity Cut)' and 'Paper Cut' notably blend in elements of rap with post-hardcore instrumentals. The former is a re-cut version of a crowd favourite, and they have done a good job to bottle that energy for the studio version. Although If you can see it live it's definitely worth it. The latter feels like a new step for the band, at least studio-wise, as they explore a sound that is uniquely Masquerader. Lyrically it tackles the issue of toxic masculinity, with an angular sound that feels born from the concrete of South East Englands New Towns. Drifting between tightly wound distortion and more ethereal synth sounds.
It's noticeable after those first few opening tracks that 'Nothing Will Change' is an EP firmly entrenched in the state of modern society. There is a Fugazi-esque feeling to a lot of Masquerader's output, where music is as important as the message. The swirling, chaotic synths seem fitting in a world of overstimulation and hyper-capitalism. A corruption of what is sold to us. The thumping bass and drums keep everything from flying off the rails. Just as you have got accustomed to the synth sound, 'Heirloom' begins. A semi-lucid spoken word track, with a feeling that can only be described as oozy. A poetic interlude to the noise. Seamlessly it leads into 'Mellify'. "Repeat today, repeat today. Everything is different but nothing's changed". A dark and oppressive track that wrestles with a feeling that many people are faced with. A sense of repetition. Stagnation. Amping up the noise to dizzying levels one last time.
Naturally, I am biased. I already loved what Masquerader were doing. MY DIY brothers in arms who have done so much to foster a great scene in Reading. Bias aside this is such a strong first full-length EP for a band. Rather than limiting itself or playing it safe it pushes the band's ethos to the forefront and explores every weird synthy sound it wants to. Every dark and uncomfortable topic it deems important. Props have to go to Fry and Williamson who anchor the EPs wilder moments, acting as an exceptionally tight rhythm section. Of course, props are well earned by frontman Danny Molyneux too who has an amazingly intense energy that drives Masquerader. That intensity is clear live, and I am impressed with how well it has transferred on recordings.
There are also three remixes added onto the EP. Mellify by Silent Weapon (Umair Chaudhry) who also mastered the EP. Paper Thin by Chameleon (Simon Oliver of As Loud As A Mouse etc). Pressure by Caleb Paice (Elucidate/Neon Bloom). They are some pretty interesting departures from the sound of the standard versions so worth a listen.
Artwork for the EP and singles was by the excellent Louis-Jean La Grange (@king_louis.17th)
Click above to listen to the album on Spotify