Hailing from Aberdeen, Cold Years are a gritty, raw and delightfully authentic rock band drawing influences from Gaslight Anthem, Creeper and Bruce Springsteen.
The former's footprint is immediately noticed in EP opener "Death Chasers", a grippingly intense track that quickly envelops into an upbeat and memorable rock stacatto, roaring along as ashtray-throated Ross Gordon spits lyrics above the medley.
The punk is a signature of the album, "Song For Our Ghosts" giving the album a Dropkick Murphy's style guitar tone - just without the shamrock-clad discourse. An atmospheric lead guitar flits in and out of a bass led verse passage before a bar band chorus carries the number, giving the song a reassuringly familiar quality - though refreshing, rather than repetitive.
A more sombre tone is found in "Lines", the band mixing cascading guitar lines with a beautifully open chord sequence allowing for lyrics of loneliness and despair to hit hardest. The emotiveness of the song is palpable and translates well to a neutral listener while the clashing backdrop of guitar and cymbals provides a suitable backdrop to the subject matter.
The band's gravel-toned singer Gordon is the star of the show alongside his seemingly Brit-Pop influenced lead guitarist, rattling through harsh vocal notes that instantly connect him to a potential audience - alongside the melody the open vulnerability of their frontman give a humanistic quality that is oddly lost in modern music - there is a real authenticity to the music produced here, making it a more endearing listen than many bands at the same stage of their careers.
"Spit Blood" displays this, as does the reflective "Troublebound", a palm-muted guitar intro alongside the nostalgia of Gordon's words setting a scene of lost nights and the broken promises of early adulthood. The song builds beautifully while the vocals shift from Gaslight to a darker, Layne Staley from Alice In Chains vibe - further expanding the band's range and reach.
An acoustic and piano number fill out the final stages of an EP, "Innocence" a track that could have been pulled out Springsteen's back catalogue, mirroring the Boss's ability to bring characters to life through description and musical narrative.
"Maria" concludes the record, a heart-wrenching tale of lost romance amongst a powerful and simplistic piano line. It successfully ties the themes and feel of the EP together - a tribute to times gone and regrets held.
Cold Years seem to have an intangibly like-able quality to them - their songs fill the speaker with classic rock tales, trials and tribulations yet there is a enjoyably endearing quality to them, like you are hearing stories of wasted time for the first time in your life. The musicianship is understated and well presented, offering an accompaniment to the message of the song's but never overstaying their welcome.
An album is sure to be the next step after "Death Chasers" and given the potential of this EP, it is worth getting excited about.