June 6, 2020

Servant Leader is the solo project of Leigh Oates, of Xilla, Soldierfield, Rise To Addiction and Ninedenine fame. With Raised by Wolves – Part 1, Servant Leader presents the first of two EPs where you’ll find very powerful tracks with lots of melody underpinned by real heavy-weight rock. If you’re a fan of bands such as Avenged Sevenfold, Asking Alexandra, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Velvet Revolver, then you’ll certainly like this guy. Part 1 was released in March, but I understand we won’t have long to wait for Part 2!

I’m quite taken by these five tracks, although getting hold of any information, photos, etc is very difficult to say the least! It’s got a decent production, and the songs are competently performed. The inference is that Leigh has played all the instruments on this as well as sing, but I somehow doubt that. It may well be the case, because the one piece of constructive criticism I would make is that all five arrangements are pretty similar, and for me a whole album would begin to drag….

The first track Daybreak really does sound very like pure Avenged Sevenfold – and that’s no criticism, no disgrace! Introduced by a heavy-weight drum-beat before power chords come crashing in, joined by angry but strong vocals, it’s nevertheless a melodic chunk of metal, decrying the craziness in this world. Vocals are slightly distorted but tuneful, and the meaty chord structure pummels you into submission whilst sucking you in.

Boundaries is next, slamming in as though you’ve already missed a verse. Heavy-weight but not doomy, More passionate vocals but even more melodic with a particularly infectious chorus, same powerhouse of insistent percussion and meaty chords thrapping away! It’s certainly very catchy even if the overall sound is a bit derivative

Third up is August Parade, which leads with a snake-like “Slash”-sounding grungy guitar riff insinuating itself into your head, it’s good stuff. Very powerful vocals again, this guy has a really strong voice! This track is perhaps closest to “trad” heavy metal and it’s the strongest track on the EP. An interesting fade-out just after intriguing guitar licks leaves you wanting more.

Siamese follows the same vein, more dark riffs reminding me again of Velvet Revolver. Drums are a bit mechanical but the vocals again swoop between tuneful and howling, supported by , the reminclimbs into my head, the drums bouncing round my brain, the guitars providing light to the shade of the beat. And this guy can sing!

The closer, That Girl is another whopping slab of the same, another great grungy riff underpins more really strong vocals – a great voice. I love the ‘dirty’ guitar sound here, I cant believe this is all one guy, and that’s the main problem – no info means I cant really bang the drum about the people who produced a decent EP. The PR link to a website doesnt work either…..Come on Leigh, tell us more when Part 2 comes out!

As I say, I understand Leigh to have created this in between his other work and although it’s a solid effort, for me a little more variety in the arrangements would lift this into the Major League stakes – and make it considerably easier to give credit where it’s undoubtedly due!

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