We take a stroll through Orchards, Mask Of Judas, Ink, Camp Cope (pictured), Jo Passed and Groundculture...
Mask Of Judas
Behind the ‘Mask’ with complex and progressive session whizz Sam Bell
Mask Of Judas are a unique, diverse metal band. They combine a djent-y riff spectrum with a dose of thrash and a brain-tangling touch of Petrucci-esque prog metal. It all calls for a unique, diverse guitarist. Enter session whiz Sam Bell - the UK group’s mastermind and founder member.
“My approach with Mask Of Judas was to make eccentric, melodic progressive tech metal on the eight-string,” he tells TG, demonstrating the clarity of complex thought also common in his playing. “I wanted to do the tech thing, whilst keeping the structures quite pop… to treat that guitar like a piano.”
The proof, as ever, is in the picking. The band’s recent album The Mesmerist is full of rollercoaster arpeggios, thudding dynamism and hooks wrangled from Sam’s complex inner-pop psyche. “I play from what I hear in my head as much as possible,” Sam explains. “It always makes a positive impression on my playing. I think our ears are the most important tool we have as musicians - they constantly change the way that we approach our playing.”
Tellingly, Sam’s solo material is on the polar opposite end of the spectrum, dropping the Ibanez eightstring in favour of a custom Eternal Guitars S-type and taking in 80s synth sounds and fusion influences.
“It’s much more laid back. A lot of people who followed me for the extreme shred stuff were a bit confused by the variety…”
But that’s what makes Sam’s playing special: far from over-drilled and mirthless, there’s something very much alive - writhing and thriving - at the heart of Mask Of Judas, wresting control from the machine.
“I always ask, ‘What am I trying to say with this?’,” says Sam. “No matter how good you are as a player, it counts to be a decent human being. It’s about how you carry yourself.”
- For fans of: TesseracT, Paul Gilbert
- Gear: Ibanez RG 8 Prestige, Line 6 Helix LT, Eternal Guitars S-Type
Experimental math-pop bears fruit
Listening to Orchards is like a cartoon space trip through a candy galaxy. On the likes of Darling, Luv U 2 and Double Vision, the Brighton band have all but mastered the balance between irresistible pop and math-rock intrigue.
“I love the way a simple note progression, coupled with a clean and tight delay can create this big sound, almost like a synthesiser,” says the band’s lynchpin guitarist Sam Rushton. “[I wanted to] go further down that rabbit hole.” The result is a fruity, synth-like tone with a kick - a sonic piña colada, if you will.
“I can’t just rely on one trick,” explains Sam. “It’s a combination of making sure that I’m still playing something melodic that works with the song yet still creating enough ‘noise’. I hate it when bands just stick a shit-ton of reverb on. There’s more to sounding big than that!”
- For fans of: Mylets, Real Terms
- Gear: Fender Offset Mustang, POG, Rainbow Machine & DL4
A dark blot on a pop past
First formed by former solo artist Todd Dorigo and McFly bassist Dougie Poynter, INK is a dark rock band taking its cues from the likes of Depeche Mode and Interpol.
“There was no intention to begin a project together,” explains Dorigo. “But after writing a bunch of songs which we were so excited by, it felt like too much of a waste not to do something with them.”
It was the sub-y hit of Fever from recent EP Heaven that first got its claws in to us. Back To The Noise’s tale of capsule heartbreaks in stadium-sized choruses form finished the job.
“I’ve never strived to play every note immaculately and you could say this is now a habit,” acknowledges Manchester-born Dorigo. “Jolyon Thomas said that I have a northern groove to my playing. I’m not entirely sure what that is but being a northerner, there could be some truth to that!”
- For fans of: Depeche Mode
- Gear: Fender Mustang, Vox AC-15
- Who: Ozzie guitarist Georgia McDonald
- Sounds like: Jangling, angry autobiographical songwriting about industry sexism and other things that shouldn’t happen to a person
- Gear: J Mascis Jazzmaster (wired neck pickup to jack), Fender Deluxe Reverb
- For fans of: Courtney Barnett, Billy Bragg
- Hear: The Opener
- Who: Vancouver “music weirdo” Joseph Hirabayashi
- Sounds like: An imaginative reinvention of the new wave guitar hero. Jo’s playing, from tinkled tones to outrageous whammy bar abuse, is as exciting as it is varied.
- Gear: Fender Stratocaster, Fender Vibrolux
- For fans of: Weaves, Moaning
- Hear: MDM
- Who: Geordie guitarists Mattie Turner and Lewi Sholder
- Sounds like: Vibrantly violent melodic hardcore packed with pedal tones and harmonics
- Gear: Lewi: PRS SE Mike Mushok Baritone, Kemper. Mattie: Fender Strat, Blackstar Series One
- For fans of: Architects, Every Time I Die
- Hear: Confessions