PHOXJAW Album: Royal Swan Release: 3rd July 2020
Set for Release on 3rd July 2020 via Hassle Records, ‘Royal Swan’ is the debut full-length album by Bristolian quartet PHOXJAW. If their previous EP releases ‘Goodbye Dinosaur…’ and ‘A Playground for Sad Adults’ served as tasters to what PHOXJAW can do, this 12-track album ‘Royal Swan’ takes them to another level with their explosive sound making you take note.
Royal Swan starts off with the atmospheric feel you get from some of the classic PHOXJAW tracks. The introduction piece of Charging Pale Horses leads into the first full track Trophies In The Attic (and indeed the album) beautifully. Trophies In The Attic is a great start to understanding the range of PHOXJAW, also what’s to come from the album as a whole. Opening with echoing guitars on top of a sharp, tight bass and drum combination, it feels almost like an indie rock classic that evolves into a dark sludgy sound with vocalist Danny Garland screeching over the top of the calming backing vocals.
Talking about the range and diversity of PHOXJAW that you start to see in Trophies In The Attic, we’re then taken to the bands second single release from this album Triple AAA. This track has popped up on The Indie Show on BBC Radio 1, which may be a little surprising to those familiar with this band, but listening to this track it’s no surprise. Don’t be fooled, it’s still very much PHOXJAW, but it touches on the more mainstream radio sound which you may not usually see from a band of this genre. I hear a slight Enter Shikari sound with the repeating synth beat, especially at the beginning. Triple AAA pulls back on the screaming and eerie-darkness to deliver a great rock track with a really catchy chorus, one I’ve been singing for days. There’s something really uplifting about this track, it’s fast paced, energetic, the kind of song you would jump about to in a crowd with a massive smile on your face.
The next track on Royal Swan is another recently released single You Don’t Drink A Unicorn’s Blood. I recently reviewed this single which you can read here. It’s more of a look into the darker heavier side of PHOXJAW mixing pounding heavy riffs with atmospheric almost calming verses.
That track is followed by the first released single Half House, another touch of a different sound, this time showing more of an alt-rock sound. Half House feels like a journey. You start with an almost creepy guitar sound for the introduction continuing through the verse, like the walls are closing in on you before smashing into the chorus where the band describe those walls crumbling down. Towards the middle of the song you’re met with a calming breakdown, I get the image of someone in a mental asylum in a confused yet sedated state before they’re suddenly reawoken by the sludgy section which leads into the ending chorus. It’s like you’re still falling through a bad trip before you’re met with the calming release of the outro.
Bats For Bleeding is definitely one of the hidden gems on this album and one I implore you to enjoy. Yet another show of their diversity, PHOXJAW enter into somewhere between Arctic Monkeys, Marilyn Manson and 70’s Prog. Starting off with the classic prog inspired organ, the song moves into a heavy almost bluesy feel. It kind of makes you feel like you’re watching a creepy circus, something about it makes your skin crawl but you love every second of it.
If you were starting to feel comfortable listening to this track, that feeling is ripped away by the organ solo sending chills down your spine adding to the general creepy but so satisfying feel to Bats For Bleeding. This is a really good song that takes you out of your comfort zone and into a state of ecstasy.
Royal Swan is a really good album, an explosive introduction to anyone that doesn’t know who PHOXJAW are. They’ve already toured with Black Peaks, Pagan, Zakk Sabbath and Loathe, and had solid support from Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Daniel P. Carter’s BBC Radio1 Rock Show and Total Guitar. This album is an evidence that’s clear to see why they’re considered as ‘One to Watch’.
– Chris Brain
For Fans of: Biffy Clyro, System Of A Down, Idles and At The Drive-In