Loaded with more crunch than any of the mainstream rock records I’ve heard in 2021 – but hardly limited by the distortion it wields so epically through all four of its tracks – Pistols at Dawn’s Nocturnal Youth EP is, at first glance, a modern metalhead’s dream. Upon closer inspection, I think keen listeners are likely to recognize its pop componentry more than anything else, specifically concerning how it highlights even the edgiest of moments the band can produce here. Pistols at Dawn aren’t interested in banging out noise exclusively; they’ve got technique, and they’re letting us know that in this record.
The video for the lead single “Crown” captures the identity of both the parent EP and the players on-screen better than one might expect, and yet it is cosmetically cheaper than the indie standard would typically call for. The message is made clear with the visuals of this piece in that Pistols at Dawn are more compelled by sonic physicality ala the deep cuts in Nocturnal Youth – i.e. “Voices,” “Gone Black” and “Now is the Time” – than they are the very notion of breaking off a conventionally polished teaser look in this release. It’s refreshing to see from a metal act, especially one coming out of the United States.
Structurally speaking, I would need my head examined if I didn’t acknowledge the weak spots in Nocturnal Youth – unartful mixing, a crass approach to predictable lyricism – but all in all, there are far more studs in this tracklist than there are duds, and all of it is because of the attitude Pistols at Dawn bring to the table. They’ve got a charisma that reminds me a lot of the frequently lampooned hair metal acts that rode the gravy train through all of the 1980s, but in the context of 2021, it seems almost more appropriate (and certainly a lot more fun).
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