Album review: Press To MECO – Transmute

English alt.rock survivalists Press To MECO take a battering and come back better on incredible third album Transmute.

Album review: Press To MECO – Transmute
Sam Law

Press To MECO might never have gotten this far.

A decade into their journey, in 2021 the Crawley-based alt. rockers’ infusion of mathy, angular compositions with cutting, clean edges, daring fragility and unparalleled nimbleness has long stood out. It's a sound driven by uncompromised originality, yet seemingly primed for mainstream success. When 2018’s scintillating second album Here’s To The Fatigue failed to fully deliver the breakthrough they so clearly deserved, however, the frustration, uncertainty, and wear-and-tear of life on the road saw founding bassist/vocalist Adam Roffey walk away while his bandmates Luke Caley (guitar/vocals) and Lewis Williams (drums/vocals) wondered whether they should go on.

In every sense, Transmute feels like a courageous step forward. Harnessing the darkness and disillusionment, these 13 tracks drive into more turbulent, soul-searching territory than before. After a smashing industrial intro, opener Another Day sees a stubborn melody writhing against chugging riffage and the wry admission that, ‘It feels like I’m punching the gas / On an already steady decline.’ At the other end, classic, ostensibly upbeat Press To MECO banger Way To Know declares with real defiance: ’There’s beauty to be found in the indifference of life, but I haven’t found it yet.’

Sonically, too, Smouldering Sticks feels like a rumbling showcase for ACODA’s Jake Crawford – who steps in on bass – before unleashing its brilliantly incongruous ‘woo-oohs’, bells and whistles. The towering Baby Steps traverses a massive, shadowy dynamic, from forlorn emo to squalling, ear-splitting post-rock. Sabotage floors the throttle once again, delivering three minutes of blasting high-octane and handclaps, before dropping a fourth of brassy grandiosity that’d do Black Holes-era Muse proud.

Crucially, Press To MECO’s singular identity remains undimmed. For comparison’s sake, there are elements of the unpredictable playfulness of Don Broco, Sleep Token’s haunting, juxtaposed sweetness, and the sheer unbound brilliance of Biffy Clyro here. But as wondrous closer Hesitation rings away into silence, it's even more clear that you could never really have been listening to anyone else.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Biffy Clyro, Don Broco, Arcane Roots

Transmute is out now via Marshall

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