They’re far from the lone attribute giving Nocturnal Youth its rock n’ roll core, but if you’re looking for the bread and butter of the new EP from Pistols at Dawn, you needn’t search any further than the dominant riffing we find everywhere in all four of the songs this record features. Led by star single “Crown,” Nocturnal Youth has a volatile guitar-based framework that often feels like it owes more to the proto-grunge of the Melvins than it does the post-2000s, harmony-centric metalcore the band sources the rest of their surface aesthetics from. Indeed, there’s more to this act than meets the eye – and a casual sit down with this extended play will prove as much.
The lead vocal complements the gruff tone of the guitars in “Crown” and “Gone Black” wonderfully, and I would even argue that its role is made greater in the big picture here because of the way Pistols at Dawn arrange their songs. They’re not Atlanta metal legends Mastodon by any stretch of the imagination, but you can tell they take a lot of influence from the concepts the band helped to set forth around the time of Blood Mountain (particularly with regards to the way they emphasize the size of their sound with every component of the music).
Throughout Nocturnal Youth, melodicism is scarcely lost in the distortion of the instruments; contrarily, it usually captures the lion’s share of our attention through the otherwise chaotic make-up of the material at hand. “Voices” and “Now is the Time” have pop hooks sewn into their violent thrusting, and you don’t have to listen all that closely to recognize them. This is a band that takes compositional integrity more seriously than a lot of their peers do, and that alone makes their new EP worth taking a look at.
An intriguing look for a band more people in the American underground should be talking about this spring, Nocturnal Youth shows us a glimpse of who Pistols at Dawn already are – and more importantly, who they have the opportunity to become if guided in the right creative direction. This isn’t as ambitious a record as it could have been, but I think what it teases for the group behind its design is more than enough to make it a win for their discography overall. I’ll be waiting to hear more of these guys in the future, but for now, check out this EP and specifically “Crown” for a good feeler of what this crew is all about.
by Bethany Page