Release Date: 24/06/2022
Record Label: Metal Blade
For Fans Of: While She Sleeps, Protest The Hero, Heck
Spellchecker-hating Bristolians RXPTRS have been generating a fair amount of buzz of late. Their fierce blend of metal, punk and hardcore has seen them lauded as the future of British rock and their live shows are already the stuff of legend. All this goodwill has helped them land a deal with Metal Blade and Living Without Death’s Permission is their long-awaited full-length debut.
While it’s tempting to compare it to other bands, the only accurate way to describe this album is it’s a bit like necking eight energy drinks in a row, then discovering one was laced with strychnine. It’s all bouncy, high-octane fun, but once the adrenaline starts to subside, things get dark real quick. On the first play-through, it’s a blast; RXPTRS play with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of five young guys who just realised they’re on the same label as Killswitch Engage and can’t believe their luck. Their hyperactivity is infectious and physical copies of this record should ideally include a guide for fixing holes in the plaster caused by jumping into your bedroom walls.
Once you start digging into its themes however, Living Without Death’s Permission turns out to be darker than it first appears. This is an album about the fleeting nature of life and how death can snatch you away in a heartbeat. Three of the songs (Let Me Die How I Want, Cold Ground, The Death Rattle) revolve around the passing of singer Simon Roach’s Grandmother, while the album title was inspired by a car crash where he came within a whisker of being decapitated. The grim subject matter should be at odds with the sugar-rush of the music, but in some respects it makes total sense; being told it’s a miracle your head is still attached will make you want to grab life by the balls.
Roach’s lyrical abilities are a major asset to the band, but it must be said, he’s probably going to turn a few potential fans away. His voice is RXPTRS’ unique selling point; he sounds like Bruce Dickinson on helium and hollers out his lines faster than a Lidl checkout operator. He’s talented, charismatic and instantly recognisable, but will also irritate some people and put them off.
His pipes make RXPTRS sound like no-one else though and his bandmates are no slouches either. Whether it’s the tender strings and piano keys of Cold Ground, or the unchained rock ‘n’ roll of Gutterflies, RXPTRS consistently deliver the goods. There’s an Argos Christmas catalogue of catchy riffs crammed into the forty-three-minute runtime and even at its darkest, Living Without Death’s Permission is never less than entertaining. They’ll be massive by the time 2023 rolls around and the only complaint we’ve got is that they’re all men, so there’s no way to shoehorn a “clever girl” joke in.