April 1, 2021

Servant Leader is a solo project belonging to Leigh Oates, critically acclaimed vocalist with Xilla, Order Of Voices, Soldierfield, Rise To Addiction and Ninedenine. Just over a year ago, Leigh released Raised By Wolves – Part 1, which garnered some great reviews and ended up in several “Top 5” lists for 2020, much to Leigh’s delight, and perhaps a touch of surprise!

Because Servant Leader was sort of “part-time” work in between his other bands, Leigh had decided to release Raised By Wolves across two EPs – hence Parts 1 and 2! Last year’s EP featured five very powerful tracks with lots of melody underpinned by real heavy-weight rock, which were certainly appreciated by fans of bands such as Avenged Sevenfold, Asking Alexandra, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Velvet Revolver.

Reviews for Part 1 said things like:

“Reminds me of the old Alice In Chains…I want more and more and more and more…”

“Oates has a killer voice perfect for this style. He has range, but he also has a lot of depth and emotion. I would compare him to 90’s singers like Layne Staley and Chris Cornell, he doesn’t sound exactly like either, more of a mix of the two”…

“As those rhythms continue to bite, grooves and melodic enticement is woven around the distinctive and ever magnetic tones of Oates”…

“Hard Rock with an alternative soul”

“Overall, it sounds like a mix of Motley Crue with Alice in Chains, Crashdiet with Soundgarden, or John Bush’s Anthrax with Stone Temple Pilots”…

So now we have Raised By Wolves – Part 2, again five tracks, again all vocals and instrumentation by Leigh.

There is undoubtedly a sense of “more of the same” about these five new tracks, which should not be taken as a slur of any sort! The production is surprisingly clean and well-balanced for a “homegrown” effort (it’s on the “Leighviathon” label, geddit?). Leigh has covered all the songwriting, production and mixing, the only aspect covered by others is the Mastering. As Leigh says, “I wanted to release this material between my band’s endeavours and share it with you, this is just my take on things, all of me. I’ve taken on all the songwriting and playing duties as well as the production – it’s just a great fun project for a musician! If it makes me rich then great, if not its been the best fun trying….!!”

I don’t suppose it’ll make Leigh a millionaire overnight, but he’ll certainly please a lot of people!

The first track Raised By Wolves is a classy heavyweight affair, somewhere between Avenged Sevenfold and Linkin Park. A heavy-weight drum-beat, a relentlessly throbbing riff, angry but controlled vocals. Leigh has an innate key to blending metal and melody. Head Over Heart is fairly similar, same style and pace of vocals and riffing, and the drumming feels just a touch too complex. The chorus is a bit of a rabble-rouser. I do begin to wonder whether the five tracks will be a bit samey…

I needn’t have worried! Coming Down lowers the tempo slightly, softer vocals and mix catch the attention, this is a lovely, slower but somehow more powerful track, the chorus line is simple but effectively mesmeric before an interesting bridge section. For me, the strongest track on the EP

Words Fail is just as good though! Very reminiscent of Velvet Revolver’s ‘Slither’, it has that same dreamy mix of layered vocals and very impressive guitar work – Slash would be genuinely impressed! And this guy can also sing, he belts out a massive chorus, you can just picture this live.

Yearn is the EPs closer, another great slab of grungy riffing underpinning some truly excellent vocals – Leigh has a great voice, he’s able to project really powerfully without straining, in much the same vein as the late, great Chester Bennington. The track as whole does have that melodic Linkin Park feel to it, it’s great stuff!

The video shown above is from last year’s Part 1, Part 2 has yet to get onto YouTube – but you get the idea! Great melodic power-chord metal without being too dense; nice clear, layered, vocals: they all combine to provide a really strong song-set – I’m going to have to listen to Leigh’s “daytime work”!