To frequent visitors of uKnighted Music, The Rogue Network should be a familiar name, after I reviewed the band’s self-titled EP earlier this year. I was impressed with their bluesy rock sound, and how catchy some of their songs are! And now, in November the same year, I’m delighted to say they’re back with a bang for their second EP, Binary! Building off the back of that debut EP, the band have been generating a bit of hype around the Greater Manchester Area, and are beginning to really get noticed. This EP, then, should be a good measure of how they’ve developed, as we take a look into the music.
Binary boasts 4 brand new tracks, covering a range of styles, while sticking the band’s signature blues rock sound. The EP kicks off in style with the heaviest track on the record, Operator. The track is almost split into two halves, with the opening 3 minutes offering a more chilled, easy-riding vibe, before the stepping up a gear for the emphatic, rocking second half of the track. Opening with the laid back, groove, and harmony, the track eases you into a false sense of security. Sprinkled with a plethora tasty licks, and a catchy vocal melodic refrain, complete with beautiful vocal harmonies, this section maintains interest, without doing anything breathtaking.
However, this all changes when the riffs really kick in halfway through! Reminiscent of tracks like Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith, the track comes to life with a dramatic change of texture, rhythm and tempo. Driven by the drums, the riff based chorus grabs your attention, and injects masses of energy! The cries of “Operator!” stand out, and ensures a catchy, groovy, exciting rest of the track. Clocking in at around the 6:30 mark, this is undoubtedly a standout track on the EP which encapsulates the band’s sound, and demonstrates what they’re all about in a fantastic way.
Following on from this great opener, is the much more chilled out Venodotia. The lyrics are incredibly vital to this track, as the whole song follows the story told by them. It reminisces about happy times in the band’s life, and despite being a bit “on the nose”, they do a great job to invoke an emotional reaction. Musically, Venodotia is well structured, slowly building up from a single guitar and vocals intro, incrementally introducing more instruments into the fold as the song moves into the chorus. The chords and textures used emphasise the sentiment in the lyrics, making the message really powerful.
As well-considered as the track is, the mood is quite down. It’s almost remorseful throughout, rather than giving the feeling a prosperous time in their lives. Thankfully, this is addressed towards the end of the song (the last 30 seconds), when the tempo doubles, the harmony is much more positive, and there’s a lot more energy in the track. The track is really good, but it feels like this end section should feature sooner, or be longer so that it’s a larger part of Venodotia.
Coming in off the back of Venodotia, is Binary‘s 3rd track, Ruby. The track comes straight in with a groovy blues riff, featuring keys and guitar to create a classic blues tone to the track. Unfortunately, the song is a bit generic, struggling to differentiate itself from other songs in the genre. There are elements of this track that are really interesting; the story told by the lyrics puts a bit of a unique spin on a classic formula, as they incorporate some good imagery, and metaphors. The melodies played on the synth, and lead guitars also do a great job of providing a counterpoint to main melodies, which leave much to be desired. Unfortunately (those moments of inspiration aside), the song lacks imagination and excitement, becoming a pretty generic modern blues rock track about a girl.
4. Pam Fi
To round off the EP, The Rogue Network have included a Welsh language song, Pam Fi. Translating to “Why Me?”, the track has picked up traction around Eastern Europe, and from the start, it easy to understand why. With an inability to understand the lyrical content, a lot of the emphasis falls on the melodic, and harmonic content in the song; and this is where Pam Fi really excels. Melodically, this is one of the stronger performances from Gerallt Williams’, offering an incredible passionate vocal delivery that really shines through. These aren’t the only melodies to appear on the track though, with the band’s signature analogue synth sound providing a great alternative point of interest throughout.
However, the rest of the track lacks a bit of energy. The drums should be a driving force, pushing the track forwards, but even towards the end, in the over-repeated final chorus, the drums are a bit too controlled, like they’re actually holding the song back. On balance, Pam Fi is a bit of a mixed bag, but could be really strong with a bit of work.
Overall, Binary is a sign that The Rogue Network are making clear strides forward as a band. The opening 2 tracks, Operator and Venodotia, demonstrate an excellent degree of musicality; featuring some great riffs performed with tremendous energy. The following tracks, Ruby and Pam Fi, are decent tracks, but lack the same levels of imagination and passion found on the opening tracks. I get the feeling that if The Rogue Network can discover some consistency across the quality of songs they’re creating, the band will be on to something special, and could go far. So, with the band set to re-enter the studio in January to record some more new tracks, there’s a lot to be excited about in the future.
Binary is out on Friday 25th November and will be available on all digital platforms.