SHVPES’ second album 'Greater Than' arrives earlier than expected after the fevered response to early single ‘Undertones’. It sees the Birmingham band continuing their exploration of musical landscapes far from their metal and post-hardcore origins, leaning further into hip-hop and beyond. That sense of adventure means that they may not get everything right here, but they show adaptability that few of their peers can boast of.
‘Calloused Hands’ is a deceptively heavy opening, feeling more abrasive than it is in reality, SHVPES having lost none of their potency at creating a melodic hook. With a threat (or promise) that “There is a wolf among the sheep”, it is a protest against the sins of capitalism which is swiftly followed by ‘Undertones’. Throbbing and pulsing with righteous fury, the twin guitars of Youssef Ashraf and Ryan Hamilton put up an insurmountable wall of sound. The huge riff outbreak at the crescendo still shows just why it provoked such a strong reaction from their fans, while drummer Harry Jennings sets out a punishing beat. It’s a strong opening, bolstered by ‘Afterlife’, where Griffin Dickinson takes his first chance at spitting out rhymes instead of roaring out his vocals.
Taking risks is always to be applauded, but in truth, SHVPES don’t always quite hit the mark. ‘Someone Else’ is unpleasant and toxic in its rage, while ‘Two Wrongs, No Rights’ is an odd mini-rap about guilt (and quiche). But for every misstep, there is a ‘Renegades’ where the diverse influences find a perfect match for each other in this call to arms. Not quite their masterpiece yet, but their refreshing unwillingness to play it safe continues to make the band stand out from the crowd, and will surely bring more hits than misses in the future.