Categorized | Reviews

Aliases – Safer Than Reality (Basick Records)

Posted on 11 August 2011 by Mizzle

Review by Ali Harris

Aliases arrive in a torrent of thudding double-kick drum, rattling bass and guitars so fiddly, fast and fat it’s like a swarm of wasps streaming out the speakers and enveloping your head.
‘What’s Left For Us?’ asks the opening track of debut Safer Than Reality, a question guitarist Graham ‘Pin’ Pinney probably asked himself when his superb band, Sikth, split after just two albums.
As short-lived as they were, Sikth’s unique brand of meticulous, mad metal was enough to ensure they scrawled their name in the dusty book of UK rock legends: shoving themselves, spitting and screaming, somewhere near Skunk Anansie and Slade.

But there’s been a void in the UK’s burgeoning tech-metal scene since Sikth’s sad departure – one which, on this evidence, Aliases will more than capably fill.

It’s instantly clear that Aliases is a different beast to Sikth –more focussed, more direct, more metal, and even more memorable.
Safer Than Reality is a delicious statement of intent: a jolty, jerky, metal-up-your-carsie mini-album packed with beguiling riffs, anthemic choruses and brain-boggling rhythms.
“They control you!” screams Jay Berast, a vocalist as versatile as he is vicious, as aforementioned opener What’s Left For Us? bounces into the first of many big, catchy choruses on this album.
Drummer Darren Pugh hits his kit like he just found out it slept with his missus. Leah Woodward is a refreshingly talented female guitarist – her frantic fingers will make many male metal axemen blush with shame – and bassist Joe Heaton has more funky slap in his hands than a dodgy make-up salesman.
If the layered vocals on the opening track are a tad reminiscent of Sikth’s schizophrenic dual singing combo, Mikey and Justin, by the time the song crashes into the awesome Reality of Beliefs, Aliases’ personality is stamped into your forehead.
Berast’s vocals flit between coy and colossal: hollering harmonies on We Never Should Have Met; screaming with the force of a jet engine on All That Glitters Is Gold; and summoning dark demons for climactic closer Sirens.
The best bit comes during Whilst I Drown: the song splits down the middle to reveal a monstrous riff so head-noddingly huge it’ll give you whiplash, tear your head off, then stomp away with it down the street, shaking cars, walls and lamp-posts like a B-movie beast.
There’s no hiding the fact that Safer Than Reality is a challenge to listen to, especially if you’re used to straight-up 4/4 stadium clap-along rock.
The band tear through time-signatures and genres, prying you from Sikth purgatory with switchblade-quick prog and punk, punctuated perfectly with pop.
And you’ll be richly rewarded for repeat listens. Safer Than Reality is a clinically-executed exercise in technique, melody and groove: the ultimate in guitar geekdom and a musical masterclass.