Following on from Shaped by the Landscape (2016) and PTSD (2017) EPs, Irish metallic hardcore quartet BAILER have just released their self-titled EP. Comprising of Alex O’Leary (vocals), Chris Harte (guitar), Sean Conway (drums), and David Cleere (bass), BAILER blew us away with singles “Feel It More” and “Long Gone”. We were keen to get stuck into the BAILER EP, which released on 9th February via Distro-y Records
The five-track release opens up with “Lying For A Living” which features Xander Coughlan of Emigra. It’s intense from the beginning, capturing conflict with a lifestyle they hate. Aspirations get shot down by the push to achieve and ‘live the good life’, leaving them unfeeling and going through the motions. Unpredictable timings take on a sense of being pushed and shoved through life, in ‘constant forfeit’, with looped riffs hanging in anticipation waiting for some kind of solution to this, all the while feeling the pressure of living a lie.
In “Tuesday Blues”, second on the EP, I’m craving more dynamic in the vocals. Admittedly the ‘sameness’ and relentlessness of the voice here does echo the persisting cage of what may be war-induced PTSD. Typically preferring the vocal story, I instead lean into the path carved out by the guitars which hold interest in their telling of this tale. As well as mental monotony in their steady climb, and inner disturbance with a chugging interlude via bass, there’s beautiful ache expressed in the guitars’ goosebump-inducing heights at the close of the track, while the level forces of the vocals march on relentlessly aside from a screaming section.
“Long Gone” includes a feature from Adam Carroll of Zoax. This impressive track draws us into the story from the beginning, with interest in riffs as well as Adam’s more melodic vocals crashing up against Alex’s fire. I’m in love with the sense of ‘pay attention or you’ll miss something’ pacing as well as shifts along the way of “Long Gone”, as well as the guitar work of this track; painting a gorgeous picture of confusion and curiosity, adding to the ‘who the fuck do you think you are, and why are you spreading shit about me?’ vibe. Echoed vocal effects add interest, with an ending of dirty distortion being extremely satisfying.
I found “Feel It More” to be a musically tight track which was a pleasure to fall into. Its sharp shifts of rhythm and a sense of unpredictability are a perfect sonic match to the overwhelm being shared lyrically by the band. In their own words about “Feel It More”, BAILER shared that they wrote the track “at a time where it was really easy for us to see everything for what it was and really feel it. Those moments can be rare these days.”
In absorbing the lyrics, the surprisingly poetic track had me lyrically and rhythmically drawn in from the beginning, easy to be present with BAILER while they notice what happens within them. Using a metaphor of the ocean brings the track even more to life, making for something demanding of attention as well as moving.
The EP’s closing track “Death Is A Reminder” includes a feature from Red Enemy‘s Kevin ‘Lefty’ Letford. Bass gets a spotlight here and its grinding riff along with the (yet again impressive) guitar almost outshines the vocals as regretful reminiscing is shared. Hard heaviness is fittingly present in the sombre reflection of an earlier time. A momentary acceleration of pace seems to echo the fast-paced lifestyle the two had bonded over. The final section of the song is aching in the finality it shares, with a solid sense of helplessness sparking a punch to the chest in the absence of an old friend.
The five tracks of BAILER go hard, and I can recognise them as a showcase of the band’s present sound. I feel that the vocal features of the EP, skilled work of Chris Harte in isolation, as well as alongside Sean Conway and David Cleere in crafting sharp and unpredictable rhythms are what makes this EP as good as it is. I found the vocals to be too limited in their variability, and very early into my listen of the five tracks craved something more. Permanent dual vocals may be what’s needed to inspire a more interesting and engaging vocal dynamic for BAILER, making their solid and important lyrical content more drawing.
Check out BAILER EP via Spotify, or keep in touch with the band via Facebook.
BAILER EP Rating7
Tight musicality, with jaw-dropping rhythms and guitar work over the 5 tracks.
Lack of dynamic in the vocals made it more challenging to immerse into the messages or emotions being shared in the lyrics.