Kovax began in late 2015 with Joe Phillips and Isaac Turner joining Pete Freeth to try out a collection of songs he had been writing over the previous months. The three were pleased with the sound of their initial rehearsals and eventually brought second guitarist Dan Hey into, which really fleshed out the groove based riffs the band is built on.
The newly formed four-piece then played two secret shows to friends and fellow musicians as a test run of the material, which was well received. This lead to the planning of the band’s full launch, which included the release of debut single ‘Godot’ in January 2016, along with b-side ‘Marigolds’, and a four day run of shows, including gigs at The Parish, in Huddersfield, and headlining an Inutero Presents show in Leeds.
Kovax then released their follow up single ‘Monkeys’ in June 2016, which was played on BBC Radio Leeds and Sheffield and lead to the band being featured in Discovered Magazine’s ‘The North’ issue. The release of ‘Monkeys’ coincided with two short summer tours, during which Kovax played alongside incredible British bands such as Youth Man, I Cried Wolf and Nova Hands and at events such as Live in Barnsley and Alt-Metal Fest in Manchester.
Following this Kovax then took time to work on new material, which was put to the test live in November on an 8 date tour with Nova Hands. The new material went down well, encapsulating the raw aggression and groove based pop-sensibilities the band are known for. So, Kovax then went into the studio at the beginning of December 2016 to work on their anticipated debut EP, which is scheduled for release in May 2017.
The band are also still regularly playing shows, cementing their reputation as one of Leeds’ loudest and most energetic bands.
Album Title: If There Was Ever Any Doubt
Review: Heavy, guitar driven opening riffs are the order of the day with Kovax’s debut EP, If There Was Ever Any Doubt. Shouty, but not quite complete screemo, which was nice, the band has a sound that fits together well, with heavy beats and angry, aggressive guitar playing and a singer who, though clearly yelling, is still quite understandable in most places. The pieces are very raw, full of energy and passion, with enthusiastic playing in both Kennel and Breathe, while Atlas slows things down a little in the introduction, giving the listener a chance to really take in the growly quality to singer Pete Freeth’s voice. The dueling guitar sensation is pleasant, ramping things up to provide a little bit more intensity.
There are moments, however, when the music and the vocals don’t completely mesh and there is a sort of disconnect there where it feels like the vocals drag a little, or can’t quite keep up with the guitar playing, in those moments, as a listener, I was yanked out of the experience of the music, but fortunately, those were few and far between.
One of the things I really appreciated in these four songs was that there was some storytelling to the lyrics, the more I listened, the easier it became to decipher them. In Atlas, the lines “you’re voice, it keeps me warm at night, I kill the doubt that’s in my head, this empty face you’ll see revealed, give me a reason how to live, I keep fighting for my chance to feel alive,” really struck a cord with me, and I felt that it would make a connection with others who had those moments where everything felt stuck, stagnant and dead and life didn’t really feel like life anymore, just going through the motions and that’s one of the things that this band doesn’t do. They aren’t going through the motions.
The music contains the wildness expected in hard rock, a taste of angst and a whole tone of energy. In waves, the aggression really came through as well, I can feel how hard it is to let go, it shines through not only in the lyrics screaming about it, but in the drums and the guitars you can really get the sense of conflict.
Another thing I really appreciated in listening to Kovax was that despite listing being influenced by bands like Deftones and Black Peaks, Kovax never attempts in these four songs to imitate these bands, but rather to cultivate their own sounds. In listening to them back to back, the differences are clear, the bands identities are clear, and while the hints of influence are there, especially in the energy of the guitars and the growly, visceral delivery, there is so much difference that is allows Kovax to be distinct among them.
This is a band I would listen to again. While it doesn’t fit my daily music choice, it would absolutely have a place in my playlist, especially when I was doing something that involved getting up and moving around and being a bit physical. I could see putting this on in the gym or the dojo while training and letting the aggressive guitar playing and vocals be a driving factor in my workout. It’s good stuff.
Rating Tag: Raw, Aggressive, Energetic
Track Specific (0 to 5)
Overall Album (0 to 5) 3.25
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