Album Reviews

Album Review: JOHN – Nocturnal Manoeuvres

JOHN - Credit: Paul Grace




Release Date: 8th October 2021

Label: Pets Care/ Brace Yourself Records

For Fans Of:  Idles, METZ, Heavy Lungs.


After the last year and a half, even the calmest of souls contains some pent-up frustration. Not aimed at anything in particular, but sitting dormant just below the surface. We know this angst needs to come out somehow—like an air bubble straining to pop. This is where London duo JOHN come in. Nocturnal Manoeuvres  is a ten song jaunt that’ll leave you exhausted but a little lighter. Its main purpose seems to be about shaking out your rage and moving your body after too long cooped up.  Caustic guitars and bombastic drums rattle your core, seemingly not pushing a message but a feeling. Think Idles without the politics. 

Sonically, this is the band’s biggest, most cinematic sound. It plays out like a movie behind your eyelids, consuming everything around you: It can be jarring to remember that it’s only a duo. JOHN effortlessly create relentless, paint-peeling hardcore, and yet the best moments may be the record’s few exhales. Tracks such as ‘A Song For Those Who Speed in Built-Up Areas’ feel like a breath out, a pause for both listener and band, despite being slow only in relation to the rest of the album. They’re definitely not ballads, rather a mid-tempo pause that allows you to collect yourself before bouncing off the walls again. And it’s only at this point that you appreciate how much JOHN brings it. It’s also here that you wish Nocturnal Manoeuvres had more of these spots. The record feels almost too caustic, a hand holding you under the water for too long. What starts out as a bombastic release of angst becomes a numbing anti-climax, the sense of “here we go again” as the guitars rev up.  The huge sound suits them, they just need to learn how to wield it.

As a band that has grown organically with every record—evolving from a scrappy duo self-releasing records into a bonafide attraction partnered with Brace Yourself Records records—few should doubt that JOHN can figure out the pacing and prosper . Watching them grow has been a treat for longtime fans, and if you’re new to JOHN get ready to shed some rage.

Rating: 8/10

Recommended track:Sibensko Powerhouse’


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