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Album Review: Newborn Mind by Napoleon

Melodic hardcore four-piece Napoleon release their new album Newborn Mind on 27th May via Basick Records. Having honed their skills in the live arena, the resulting sound is truly organic and energetic, setting them leagues apart from the many bedroom projects with players of a similar technical caliber. Napleon could be compared to the likes of Architects, At The Drive In and Propaghandi, who have all shown fearless boundary pushing whilst retaining real attitude and feel.

In a genre that is, at times, over reliant on technical proficiency and heaviness, Napoleon aren’t afraid to put the brutal complexity beside lighter and more accessible material. The comparison is stark with ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Maps’ beside each other at the midpoint of the album, the former being a visceral hardcore anthem with the latter verging close to pop rock territory in all but the hardcore vocal. ‘Of Jams, Smokes & Promises’ goes close to combining the two textures in one song – it sees guitarist Sam Osborns at his most intricate while the hook is big a succulent.

Melodic hardcore can be an easy genre to dismiss with its Kerrang! friendly hooks and an in vogue scene, yet you can’t ignore the musicianship here; it’s excellent throughout. It’s just a question of where Napoleon are at their strongest. Put the poppier ‘Stargazer’ beside the harder edged ‘Remedy’ and it’s pretty obvious. Napoleon have a knack for writing a big powerful hook, they’re infectious and all-encompassing. It’s the kind of melodic hardcore that threatens to get the blood racing with its attitude, hooks and brutality.

That said there’s something a little contrived about Napoleon’s sound. The cynic could say that’s an easy avenue towards relative success, it’s a sound that will appeal to the kids. It’s complex and technically proficient yet accessible enough to be at the entry level end of the hardcore spectrum. If it wasn’t for its roots and energy Napoleon’s sound would be lost amongst the abundance of bands that do a similar job. Napoleon are just that little bit better than their contemporaries that make you take notice, title track ‘Newborn Mind’ is excellent  and ‘Utopia’ walks the fine line towards metalcore fodder coming in with the potential to make the band huge.

Newborn Mind is by no means a ground breaking album. It is pretty good though. In Napoleon you could be witnessing the next big thing.

AD Rating 6.75/10

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