Review by Joey Stoate
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Back in late November of 2015, I described Rootwork as a Queens Of The Stone Age-esque stoner rock band, and a very interesting one at that. Having caught the tail end of their set supporting Black Peaks at the Guildford Boileroom, the band impressed me within the short time I was fortunate to catch them. Now, entering the new year, I’ve had some time to come to grips with their latest E.P., Gallows Humour, and boy, is this a strong start to 2016.
Kicking off the record with the crushingly heavy Code Talker, I realise that my earlier comparisons in past reviews to bands such as QOTSA may no-longer apply. Opening the record with a riff not unlike something you’d expect from tech-metal titans Meshuggah, the sheer power behind the guitar work on this track is exhilarating, even playful in it’s groove-laden bounce, and the band’s use of clean vocals only prove to highlight their uniqueness. The Farnborough trio’s evolution into proficient technical metal has been incredibly elegant, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t start the song over again as soon as it ended the first dozen times.
Continuing on, we come to arguably the most radio-friendly track, Burning Shame. This time, we’re treated to what sounds like echoes of bands such as Lower Than Atlantis in the instrumentals, and even shades of Foo Fighters in the song’s vocal delivery. However, it’s very difficult to pick out specific bands when speaking about Rootwork, and that’s one of the best things about the trio. However, don’t let those comparisons fool you, Burning Shame isn’t afraid to bring the riffs back once more, and this time it’s just as heavy.
When we come to the third track on the record, however, the influences here are clear, in the best way possible. Dead Man’s Jacket has Mastodon written all over it, straight down to the song’s haunting verses, climbing chorus and fuzz-laden guitar lines. The song’s major interlude around the halfway mark adds a psychedelic tinge to proceedings, leading the track to probably end up the most intriguing on the record, once again leaving the audience with another chaotic crescendo.
Closing the E.P. is final track Nothing’s Left For You. Taking the haunting, ethereal verses the band seem to write so well and melding it with gentle, finger picked guitar lines, creating an atmosphere thick enough to envelope the listener completely. Harmonised vocals add another layer of intricacy to the already rich soundscape before coming to a head with a cacophony of absolutely earth-shattering riffs throughout the piece. Clocking in at nearly eight minutes, the song absolutely justifies it’s extended running time with a plethora of riff variations, keeping the listener on their toes, stopping them from getting too comfortable with the way the track is ticking along.
Rootwork have delivered something truly special here. Whilst borrowing from some genre-spanning names, the band have served up a completely new take on the tech-metal scene. Hell, I’m not even sure what to class this as. One thing I do know, however, is that if there’s one thing you should be doing in 2016, it’s keeping an eye on the boys in Rootwork. Don’t expect this E.P. to be such a hidden gem for much longer.
Score : 9/10