Honestly some days you can’t win as a band. No one wants to pay for music anymore, especially if your are not some chart bothering behemoth of popular sterility, so you give your hard created music away for free, eschewing the time and effort you have invested in buying equipment, learning to play it, driving all over the country at you own expense and playing to the clichéd one man and his dog and still in some darkened corner of the internet a basement dwelling loser lays into you.
That was my reaction when I was doing further research on Opus. In preparing for my review of the 3 piece English instrumental band I found a particularly unconstructive review – what’s wrong it’s free, it’s not worth anything, if it costs it’s worth stealing?
Looking at this release with a rational head, it is hard to separate the band from the legacy of their influences, citing Mogwai is as inevitable as Alanis Morissette failing to understand irony, but fortunately they manage to side step being mere clones by mixing up their style with dashes of King Crimson, smatterings of progressive metal and driving riffs.
In fact the opening track of ‘Autonomy’ kicks off with a punky, desert dry feel that recalls Kyuss or QOTSA before they were filtered through the Pop Market by Homme. This is no blatant rip off either but a huge, accessible piece of music that is taught and muscular. It is not long before their own unique, experimental side takes over and they drop out of that into a carefully considered, acoustic section that is almost Joy Division-esque with a smattering of psychedelia, before picking up pace to run the prog rock gamut for a dizzying finale.
The second track by contrast is completely bi-polar, an achingly beautiful moment of serenity where strings and piano collide in perfect harmony; soaring and uplifting before the band put their foot back on the throttle for track three’s charge for the finish line with a straight forward rock and roll work out that would be perfect for hammering down some dusty highway and blowing off steam.
It’s a hard task keep people’s attention as an instrumental band and to stand out from your influences can be tricky. At times Opus do this with ease and at times you wonder if you’ve heard that piece before. That said it is a refreshingly non naval gazing piece of music and will no doubt come alive in small venue setting and for Christ’s sake, it’s free.
It would be a spoilt, churlish person to look this gift horse in the mouth.
Label: Self Released
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden