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The Qemists

The Qemists - Warrior Sound album art

Warrior Sound

4th March 2016 – Amazing Record Co.

01. Our World
02. Jungle
03. Run You
04. Angerk
05. New Design
06. No More
07. Push The Line
08. We Are The Problem
09. Let It Burn
10. Warrior Sound
11. No Respect
12. Requiem

There’s a possibility that you know The Qemists better than you think you do – especially if you are fond of video games, and racing games in particular. Over the last decade, alongside their previous two albums, building their reputation for potent live performances, and a steady stream of remix work, they’ve also carved out a bit of a niche providing songs for a whole raft of video game soundtracks, including multiple episodes in the Forza and Need For Speed franchises. Zoom.

It’s not hard to see why. Their high octane hybrid of rock sensibilities and electronic tones seems purpose built for smashing a Bugatti Veyron around a street track…even if the inconvenience of not being a billionaire means doing it virtually.

Warrior Sound is The Qemists first album since 2010′s Spirit In The System, and in that time vocalist Bruno Balanta has upgraded from special guest to full member, and was joined last year by Olly Simmons, previously of the much-missed Collisions. Nevertheless, the band have kept up their tradition of inviting guest vocalists to contribute to a track, albeit in not quite the same numbers as seen on Spirit In The System; this time around Hacktivist, Kenta Koie of Crossfaith and Charlie Rhymes join the list of alumni that already includes Enter Shikari, ex-Monuments vocalist Matt Rose and Mike Patton from previous releases. Yes, THAT Mike Patton.

Falling somewhere between the likes of Pendulum or The Prodigy and Pitchshifter or Enter Shikari, Warrior Sound is a solid collection of beats, breaks and squelchy synths lashed to more traditionally rock-oriented song structures. On first listen it feels weirdly out of context: a bit like having a bath with your socks on. These tunes have clearly been written for the stage, and without the sheer weight of air being moved by the bass bins of a hefty PA system, it feels just a little muted. However, this feeling dissipates through a combination of repeated listens and the judicious application of a bit of extra volume.

Throughout Warrior Sound, The Qemists maintain a thoroughly dance-able tempo, with no room for ballads or ambient interludes – just a near relentless barrage of drum and bass-propelled stompers practically guaranteed to turn their live audiences into sweaty, seething knots of movement. The album takes its name from a line in Rage Against The Machine‘s “Mic Check“; a sample of which is deployed in the title track, which is an energetic high point of the record.

Elsewhere, it’s often Olly’s vocals that give the stand-out tracks like “Run You” or “Push The Line” that extra push into ‘anthem’ territory. His previous experience shines through, and has contributions are mature and assured, fitting in perfectly with the significantly longer musical relationship the rest of the band share.

However, there’s not a tremendous amount of variety on offer here, and as a result some tracks, like”Anger” and “Let It Burn“, become rather forgettable and easily skipped relatively quickly – but that may be beside the point. Warrior Sound doesn’t seem to be designed for losing oneself in, with headphones on and eyes closed. No, it’s clearly meant to be a soundtrack to either a night on the dancefloor, or one spent screaming at your TV with a game controller in hand, and it fulfills those roles with enjoyable flair.