SHVPES – ‘Greater Than’

By Sean Lewis

SHVPES front man Griffin Dickinson’s surname encourages a rather unwelcome elephant into the room – and yes, his dad is THAT Bruce Dickinson.

This isn’t to say that SHVPES have had an easy ride. Rather than riding on the coattails of Griffin’s lineage, SHVPES have spent almost a decade grinding away in the UK’s underground rock scene; making a mix of nu-metal and metalcore that Maiden fans would baulk at. Anyone who’s been around Britain’s smaller circuit would have seen their name on a bill at some point, and this culminated in the Birmingham band rising up the ranks to support Bullet for my Valentine on their 2018 arena dates.

Their debut, ‘Pain. Joy. Ecstasy. Despair’, was a unique blend of genres, but SHVPES cast the net even further on ‘Greater Than’. They take from everything from the grandiosity of U2, to the glitch-hop of Dan Le Sac VS Scroobious Pip. On album closer ‘Counterfeit’, they bounce from shit-kicking hardcore to Prince-styled funk. Like System of a Down in their heyday, it never comes across as forced experimentation – it comes across as a logical creative decision by a band brave enough to push boundaries.

You can also draw comparisons to System of a Down on a thematic level. ‘Greater Than’ deals in the darker side of life – from cheating partners on ‘Something Else’, to mental illness on ‘War’, to a real life incident where their friend was left fighting for his life on the haunting ‘Afterlife’. Yet, Griffin’s lyrical approach, combined with the playful experimentation of the music, keeps the record from being a downer.

‘Hey Brother’ exemplifies this. Like several of the songs on ‘Greater Than’, ‘Hey Brother’ deals with the subject of anxiety. However, Griffin personifies the disorder as a dramatic friend, asking “hey brother, where’d you go? How you been?”. This, combined with a raw, punky performance from the band, makes the song cathartic rather than mopey.

The only missteps on the album are the throwaway songs where SHVPES indulge their hip-hop influences to their fullest. ‘Two Wrongs, No Rights’ and ‘I’m Stuck’ both clock in at under 2 minutes long, almost as if the band knew that these songs wouldn’t be taken seriously. ‘Note To Cell’ is also an uncharacteristically uninspired track tucked away near the end of the album.

Apart from these minor mistakes, SHVPES deliver important messages sound tracked to riotous music. After a decade of grinding away, ‘Greater Than’ is a big step towards the band finding the success they deserve.

SEAN LEWIS

Three more album reviews for you

All Ears Avow - 'Skin & Bones'

LIVE: Deaf Havana / iDKHOW @ O2 Academy Brixton

LIVE: Basement / Joyce Manor @ O2 Forum, London