Proving there is still room for pleasant surprises in the often predictable world of rock music are Yorkshire’s Servers.
Their debut album Leave With Us melds mainstream accessibility with a thunderous metal groove.
The result is a record you’ll not want to stop playing for a very long time. We’ve had the Seattle sound of grunge in all its forms, the Florida death metal thing back in the nineties and the whole LA scene. The US likes a big show and they do it well. Here in the UK in a county more associated with dour men in flat caps and whippets things are a little more understated. Liverpool and Manchester, Nottingham and London have all had their time in the spotlight. Now three guys with a sound all of their own may well be about to shine a torch on that hotbed of musical prowess, Barnsley.
Think I’m joking? Well imagine the cerebral writing and slick tones of The Kings Of Leon married to all the passion and zip of horn throwing metal. This is what Servers sound like. They’re the House of Commons in Hawaii shirts or more realistically Scarborough hosting Rio’s Mardi Gras. They are as heavy as hell but at the same time refined and instantly likeable. The way they take such raw energy and bend, fold and manipulate it into such a full sound will leave many listening to them open mouthed.
Opener Save Me From Myself kicks things off with a huge pounding rhythm and deliciously delicate melody. It is in essence a statement of what is to follow, a kind of first track sampler that simply won’t let let you sit still, it dares you not to nod your head and jump around. With Lee Storrar’s angsty, angry but well directed vocals leaning heavily towards punk it’s a surprise when later on we get to hear him sing with a cleaner but still very focused voice. In fact the whole band’s ability to adjust their individual sound to suit the song in hand is one of the big features of Leave With Us. It gives the album space to breathe, allowing every song to hit home in the desired way.
A few times I could hear the influences that have moulded Servers coming through. A bit of Black Sabbath on that big first track, the hand of Josh Homme from Queens Of The Stone Age in the guitar on the upbeat Run With The Foxes and Mega High. The latter develops into a kind of stoner rock Helmet which is some trick to pull off.
I know the production is bass heavy to give a fuller sound but sometimes it becomes very woolly which might work on a high end music system but in the real world of mp3 players and in car audio it will sound very messy. Sometimes bands and technicians procrastinate about tiny adjustments to music recordings when simply clear and defined is the best choice. Mega High has that clarity which is missing elsewhere on this album and is all the better for it.
If you start listening to Leave With Us and like it then you’ll end up liking all of it. The problem is that I suspect it may fall into a sort of no man’s land of music. This is a place where imaginative and technically fine work end up being lauded by other musicians and a few fans but others for some reason don’t seem to get it.
The upside is that bands that make this sort of music usually gain cult status. Killing Joke spring to mind as an example. The downside is being tagged as having limited appeal. Servers in one release have shown just a little of what they can achieve.
Leave With Us could do for Barnsley what Nevermind did for Seattle. Impressive.