Names can be misleading, take the curious case of Censor The Beast. Without having heard or seen these lads you could be forgiven for mistaking them as some sort of ‘80s hair metal ensemble. In reality, they are a Dublin based three-piece who have just released their debut EP, ‘See Through Skin’, a collection of songs that owes much more to ‘80s indie than to metal.
From the opening song, this EP adopts quite a liberal approach to borrowing from other musicians. The jangly riff on Charlatan bears more than a passing resemblance to What Difference Does It Make? by The Smiths. The chorus is equally derivative owing a lot to early Kings of Leon. The Smiths imitation continues on Real Boys; the riff strongly indebted to the Johnny Marr school of guitar playing once again. The pastiche is only further emphasised by the vocals, with singer Andrew Martin attempting his best Morrissey croon. In spite of the complete lack of originality though both songs work, helped in no small part by the excellent musicianship.
Sandwiched in between both is Heart of Stone, a soppy, overblown ballad. In its defense, it sounds nothing like the Smiths but otherwise it’s very forgettable. The musicianship does go a long way towards saving face though. The guitarists have great chemistry with the loose rhythm guitar meshing perfectly with the deft, acoustic lead playing. The album closes with another slower number, the much more impressive HOAW. A step in the right direction, this one sees the band adopt a more experimental approach. Solemn, atmospheric and textured, its the best song on the album and a promising sign of what this band is capable of.
Based on this offering, Censor The Beast are far from the finished article. They’ve yet to find their sound, raiding the back catalogue of others instead. In their defence though, they’re still in their infancy and it’s natural for them to wear their influences on their sleeves. There are positives to be taken as well, they’re all accomplished musicians and in Andrew Martin they have a singer who, although yet to find his voice, has good range. Hopefully they can utilize their talents to better effects next time out. Until then these charming men are passable.