The debut album of a rebranded group is always received with a mix of apprehension and curiosity. For their fans there is the fear their music might sound too different from what it was; for those who didn’t enjoy their work before – or who are only now getting to know it – there is interest in discovering what motivated such a meaningful change.
The band Never Hill decided to play it safe and released their first EP this past June 20 to satisfy both sides. With Epilogue the British quartet not only showed their own evolution, sounding now more mature and decided than when they were called The Oceans Above, but also delivered a compelling and intriguing work, forcing newcomers to dig in deeper to check out where they came from.
That being said, Epilogue itself is nothing out of this world. Although there is undeniable quality in the lyrics, attitude and execution in the album, none of its six songs succeed in mesmerising the listener. It is a solid effort, however still lacking originality to make it stand out in the crowded genre of rock and roll.
There is nothing wrong with this, of course. Many bands are capable of maintaining a long and rewarding career with only a select yet faithful public. However the way Never Hill decided to present their first effort under the new denomination shows their ambition quite clearly: to fill up stadium around the world.
“Forgive Me”, for example, the opening song of the EP and its first single, is a rock anthem in the most classic sense. There is in it a section with a “woah hoa” made for the collective vocal chords, for that moment in the show when all lights go off and the public carries on while firecrackers are lit for an ecstatic coda.
This is followed by “Fire”, with its a romantic tone contrasting with powerful riffs and intense, heavy drums. Then it’s time for “Colours”, a melodic, piano driven ballad asking to be remixed. Next is “Stay Away”, which evokes some of the best stadium-fillers out there, from U2 to Foo Fighters. You can almost see all these songs written in this very same order on a setlist for a show somewhere.
The EP closes with “Afraid of The Dark”, another anthemic effort and possibly the weakest song of the six. Nothing that would undermine Epilogue, though, for the crystal clear vocals and soothing professionalism showed in the album can easily establish Never Hill as a household name in the UK and Ireland.
If they want to ever fill Wembley, however, these boys will need to step up their game or a strike of luck: with so many bands delivering the same kind of goods every now and then one with a brand new moniker needs to present some fresh work or find a way to become a meme. Never Hill sounds more inclined to do the former than the latter. Time will tell.