I recently had the delight of being offered the chance to hear and review Threat System’s new Overcome EP in the lead up to its release on Friday 26th April. Threat System are a band that I have been waiting to hear some recorded material from for a while, since beginning my Southampton Rocks playlist earlier in the year, and there’s no doubt that some of these tracks will be destined to join the playlist once they are released online. These locals make alternative rock of just the sort I keep a constant eye out for. It’s got driving beats, it’s just heavy enough to hit you with emotion without becoming fuzz, and the lyrics are full of relatable meaning. Threat System say that their name has its roots in CBT, and the EP is intended to chronicle their mental health struggles of all varieties in an attempt at catharsis that many can relate to. They are certainly unafraid to bare their souls in their music, and they hope to create safe spaces for conversations around mental health, and encourage others to seek support.
Overcome opens with King of the World, which sucks our attention in with its opening piano and synth like a mysterious old movie, then transforms into a rocking riff that had me immediately nodding along. Vocalist Beck’s voice displays immediate strength and emotion, and as the track moves on, demonstrates a wonderful vocal versatility that conveys the song’s message in everything from a tough rock belt to soft sweetness and a near-scream. This song has a fantastic punchy structure to it that leaves the listener feeling satisfied at the end, and shows off the skill of lead guitarist Martin no end. My only point to grumble about is that I find the lyrics particularly difficult to make out in this mix. I wondered if backing vocals in the chorus would aid both with this and a little extra lift to make Beck’s voice soar even more. That said, they are very impressive without any, so such additions are scarcely missed.
All Over eases in with lovely atmospheric deep water guitars, and then we are dropped into the rhythmically driven verse. The vocals sit out really effectively here so that the lyrics are easier to follow, and the chorus has that soaring heavy wave feeling that characterises my favourite kind of alt-rock. “Am I dramatic, or am I just panicking over things I can’t change?” is a lyric that stuck in my mind long after the song ended. Haven’t we all been there? Towards the end of this track there is a bit of what I’d call vocal acrobatics in the melody, but while this would normally be an annoying feature for me, it does underline that reference to the “dramatic” in a way that makes it oddly appropriate. This is definitely a song we can all feel deeply. I found I was kind of holding out for a seed of hope by the end, but it packs a powerful punch.
The third track, Flammable, hits us straight away with growling guitars that belong well with “the monster behind my eyes.” This track is all about the lyrics and the hard-hitting guitar and rhythm just give Beck a platform on which to sing them with conviction. I think I was looking for that standout unique riff or guitar solo for this one to rise above the level of satisfaction found in King of the World, but the vocals certainly soar and hit hard, and overall it’s a sound I enjoyed.
Next up is Fading Out. A sad lullaby mood lulls us into a false sense of calm before Beck and the guitars come out fighting with a bang. This song felt fiercely nostalgic. The line “my regrets were built to last” finds that seed of doubt about the past in all of us that soils our future. The metaphor of feeling that we are fading away is also relatable on many levels. At times I found this track a little too “all in” instrumentally – it has less contrast than the other tracks on the EP. Yet it still definitely left its mark on me, and will on you too.
Last to reach our ears is Abyss, which seems to build and build from a heartbeat-like beginning into a crescendo. This sound rightly belongs with the reference to the ability of another to release our inner demons. The song ends abruptly and leaves us feeling we’ve been hit by a wave of emotion. I also enjoyed the texture in the guitars on this track. It even possesses that key ingredient for something that might later be stuck in my head for hours – a simple, rhythmic and catchy riff that returns during and post-chorus as the song’s signature. The spoken and shouted sections in this track work surprisingly well for me, given I’m not normally one for either screaming or rapping. The tone falls somewhere between the two, and actually drew me into the rhythm extremely effectively. I could imagine fans learning these words and joining in, shouting out in an attempt at just that catharsis that Threat System are going for. With each listen this song edges steadily towards unseating King of the World as my favourite track on this release.
Overcome certainly works with the band’s stated aim of catharsis in mind. Our emotions are drawn to the surface and thrown against the waves of driving beats and heavy guitar. We are left with a feeling similar to the exhaustion after a good cry. Beck is a flexible vocalist with a range in tone few of us can emulate. I hope that you will join me on the 26th in listening to Overcome with a cup of strong Darjeeling, a favourite, but brewed for strength because this EP will open up your heart and find things inside to inspect.
You can follow Threat System’s journey on the following links:
‘OVERCOME’ will be available on all major platforms and physical copies will be available to purchase at the launch taking place at The Joiners, Southampton on 26th April 2019 with support from DALI and Minus Alive, two other brilliant local alt-rock bands.