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Core of iO

Core of iO - Part II Europa album art

Part II: Europa

1st December 2017 – Self-release

01. Stuck
02. Hit The River Hard
03. Lenuta

It is always a pleasure to watch bands steadily develop, and since their 2014 debut With Gravity As My Hostess, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing with Core of iO. Part II: Europa is the quartet’s fourth EP, and the third in a planned series of four releases, coming less than a year after its predecessor, Part III: Ganymede.

Ganymede distinguished itself by containing some of the most technically challenging passages in the band’s work to date, but Europa sees them take a step in the other direction, showcasing a more accessible side to their songwriting capabilities. However, let’s be clear that ‘more accessible’ simply means there’s nothing quite as head-bending as the jerky riffs of “Surrounded” rather than a jump to three minute pop songs, and Core of iO’s perky, progressive sound remains intact.

Indeed, “Lenuta“, which closes out this three track offering, is the longest song Core of iO have recorded to date, weighing in at a hefty nine and a half minutes. Not that you really notice the length – the transitions all feel perfectly naturally, so it’s certainly not a bloated prog odyssey extended just for the sake of it.

Hit the River Hard” both carries an interesting narrative angle - retelling one of vocalist Bob Tett’s grandfather’s wartime stories - and is potentially the strongest song Core of iO have written to date, with a hyper-catchy stop-start riff driving its anthemic vibe, and some post-hardcore angularity creeping into the mix for extra flavour. The elements are more smoothly blended together than ever, proving that the band are really finding their voice and more seamlessly bringing together the collected influences of their members.

Both “Hit the River Hard” and opener “Stuck” have sections driven more by the exceptional rhythm section of drummer Richard Carter and bassist Gareth Sidwell, who are proving to be one of the most formidable pairings on the circuit, holding down rock solid, interesting grooves for the spidery interplay between the guitars of Bob Tett and Luke Stenlake to bounce off.

Bob, too, has clearly been working hard on his already characterful delivery and pushing his vocals into previously uncharted waters with great results, which is the icing on Europa‘s cake. Increasingly self-assured, Core of iO have delivered their most rounded, most complete, most exciting little collection of tunes that only make you wish it was just a couple of tunes longer.

Those hungry for more will probably not have that long to wait for the final installment of Core of iO’s tremendously successful four-part series, which we can now clearly see has been documenting the band’s progress towards being ready to embark on writing a full-length album. We can’t help but think that more bands should take this route, and Core of iO have given us an excellent case study for future reference.

Even based purely on its own merits aside from its broader context, Europa is a runaway success, and a timely reminder that complex, technical music can still be written and performed with an obvious sense of exuberance and fun.