BY LIAM MENZIES (@BLNKCLYR)
As soon as the broody, meticulous guitars of the eponymous track Visions makes its way down your ear canals, there’s an eerie sense of deja-vu that starts to set. With this in mind alongside the vocals, certain words drawn out and a grudge fuelled sentiment flowing from line to line, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to early 00’s grunge, most notably Blackened Sky
This is no doubt what Cape Town up and comers Caelo were aiming for. In hindsight, it makes total sense why their influences are so on the nose: born in June of last year, the alt-rock outfit’s inception was catalysed by a Biffy Clyro show that front-man Joel Bronner had attended. While many acts who find inspiration from the Scottish rock juggernauts tend to focus more on their post-Puzzle career, Caelo find solace in their grittier debut, arguably the band’s best record due to the sheer immaturity allowing a plethora of raw emotion to burst through.
The same can be said for the aforementioned opening track that shares the same names as their EP: those lone guitars that are swiftly followed up by brash drums are a quintessential trait from Biffy’s debut but when looking at this EP from a purely critical standpoint, it stands even stronger. The band’s peripheral vision isn’t blurred by fanboying, instead they decide to build upon it piece by piece – some chanting starts to layer over the sticky strings, Bronner’s pristine clean vocals floating above it all like some celestial being. A cataclysmic conclusion stretches out over a quarter of the track’s running time, shouting and balling being faintly heard over a tirade of booming drums and guitars, bringing it all to great albeit messy end.
While it may seem like Caelo are wearing rose tinted glasses, the band’s sound clicks into modern music seamlessly. Renegades couldn’t sound more like Royal Blood if it wanted to, starting with an overbearing synthesised guitar before breaking into that trademark rhythmic nature from the English duo. That being said, it’s not a straight up rip-off of their style as we get some sickeningly smooth gang vocals before the return of our digitally drenched strings start to kick into a blink or you’ll miss it chorus.
Closing tracks Catacombs could possibly be the best track of the lot, channelling a lot of what has made the renaissance of emo rock fronted by the likes of Remo Drive, Modern Baseball and co. such a treat. Layered vocals and a clear, noise rock focus paves the way for the track, its brief moments of calm giving room to breathe before letting the EP’s final moments be a cluster fuck of looping vocals and quirky playing. Caleo’s tendency to rely a little bit too much reminds me of something I can only describe as Stranger Things syndrome: a love letter to something an artist adores and while it replicates what made those things so great, it’s those moments of originality that truly make it such a treat.