Hoping to take dubstep to the same metal masses as the now defunct Pendulum did with drum ‘n’ bass, London quartet Modestep make Skrillex appear like a shrinking violet on their adrenaline-charged debut album, Evolution Theory.
Any concept of subtlety may have been thrown out of the window, but packed to the rafters with gargantuan bass wobbles, splurging synths and brutal industrial beats, this record’s fifteen tracks are indeed just as likely to be embraced by the Kerrang! audience as Mixmag’s.
As the often over-wrought and fist-clenching frontman Josh Friend admits on Evolution Theory’s most anthemic hook-laden track, “Feel Good,” Modestep’s relentlessness won’t be to everyone’s taste.
“Praying For Silence” is a crass attempt to address the issues of the 2011 London riots that even a Politics For Dummies guide would vilify for being too simplistic. “Leave My Mind” sounds like it’s been lifted wholesale from the soundtrack to an early 90s console boss level. Meanwhile, the boastful claims of “I can feel the bass and it’s making my nose bleed” on the dubstep-by-numbers of “Bite The Hand” feel like a desperate attempt to court the fratboy crowd.
But occasionally, the stadium-sized affair does at least attempt to live up to the genre progression claims of its title. Featuring a handful of emerging MCs, the title track delivers a crash course in the sounds of the London underground over a surprisingly melancholic and disjointed grimy production. The live-sounding “Time” eschews the usual hair metal and rap-rock references for an array of swampy riffs that are more 70s Led Zeppelin than 00s Linkin Park. There are also flashes of disco-funk on the emphatic “Sunlight,” acoustic soul on the Chase and Status-esque “To The Stars” and even neo-classical on the cinematic closer “Saved The World.”
Featuring several singles that were released as early as 2011, Evolution Theory would no doubt have sounded more revolutionary had it arrived on the scene two years ago. Instead, despite the odd sparks of creativity, it’s a largely tired-sounding record which suggests Modestep might have missed the boat.