With their interesting blend of punk, alternative, and indie-rock, Max Raptor have been kicking about for around a decade now. The group’s sound isn’t exactly original, but neither is it particularly well worn , and the English Midlands’ quartet established their sonic direction with 2011’s Portraits and 2013 Mother’s Ruin, and their third full length release, Max Raptor, sees the band continuing to refine their particular blend of raucous rock.
The whole thing kicks off with pounding drums, provided by Peter Reisner, and Ben Wittington’s satisfying guitar riffing on Keep The Peace. Wil Ray’s heavily accented vocals – at least to non-English ears – range from semi-spoken word to punkish chanting, and are delivered in a manner that accentuates the guttural energy of the band, while Matt Stevenson’s bass guitar reinforces everything. And so the template is set for Max Raptor. Single, Old Romantics, shows that Max Raptor aren’t above imbuing their music with a pop sensibility, although it maintains a loud and angry approach. The band only occasionally missteps, as with Torch Led’s unnecessary false ending and the slightly overlong Concrete, although the latter otherwise shows that Max Raptor know what they are doing with the strong instrumentation layered to good effect.
Damage Appreciation, previous released on a 2015 EP of the same name, utilises its indie-rock tone meets punk-energy to explore minor celebrity. Where Max Raptor seems to excel, and where they seem to be holding themselves back a little bit, are on their most dynamic and progressive songs: When I Was A Gentleman and Big Divide. The former features an alt-rock meets desert-rock vibe, which was a little surprising but very satisfying, and the latter, another single, features quite a heavy break at the bridge. Hopefully these heavier, and more progressive, compositions mark a development in Max Raptor’s sound that will be explored on future releases however, for the moment, it feels like the band is running it up the proverbial flagpole to see who salutes. Max Raptor is a solid album, showing a band refining their sound, and we look for to hearing Max Raptor in the future with further developments.