Counterfeit have exploded onto the British rock scene seemingly overnight, with an enviable spread in Kerrang! this week and a widely successful release of their debut album, Together We Are Stronger, through Xtra Mile Recordings.
You might recognise the hard-edged frontman from the moves – Jamie Campbell Bower has featured in the hit Twilight franchise as well as successful motion pictures like Sweeney Todd and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. However, it would do the band a disservice to suggest that Bower’s fame created Counterfeit. The band has been DIY from day one. With a couple of UK and European tours, as well as festival appearances already under their belts, it was simply about time for a full length album. And, what a debut.
The opening track, Washed Out packs a hell of a punch. With growling, angry vocals not dissimilar to those of the pioneering Frank Carter of Gallows fame, Bower launches into a two and a half minute assault on the senses that takes no prisoners. With lyrics ‘too old to live, too young to die’, Counterfeit epitomise the London Punk Revival that has been seething underground over the last few years.
The album is authentic, something that can be sadly lacking in so many records these days. With overproduction and auto tune running rampant in the industry, it’s refreshing to know there are still bands doing it right, and doing it well. Close to Your Chest was released earlier this year as a single, and gave a glimpse into the psyche of Counterfeit. The chorus is catchy, the verses are angsty, and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser when Counterfeit embarks on an ambitious 28 Date European tour later this month and through most of April.
A theme running through the album is one of time. In addition to those in Washed Out, ‘too old to love and too young to care’ in Romeo further explores the feelings of displacement of the late 80’s to early noughties generation.
Above all, Together We Are Stronger is a journey of self-discovery and reflection. The lyrics may be written for and by Counterfeit, but they are about all of us. You Can’t Rely channels us all, we’ve all felt alone or betrayed or rejected. You Can’t Rely feels a little more angsty than many other tracks on the album, but it earns its place.
At the risk of running through this record track-by-track, Lost Everything is a wonderfully weird mix of styles, with a balladesque chorus, disjointed verses and a great bridge that throws you off the rhythm of the song and into Bower’s softer, isolated vocals.
The record rounds off with a song that feels, at first listen, rather out of place. Letters to the Lost has a backstory. Written after the tragic passing of Bower’s friend, it is a poignant tribute highlighting the stigma around male suicide and mental health issues. The raw emotion and frustration bursting through the relatively muted acoustic accompaniment will leave the listener burnt out but hungry for more.
I give this album 4/5. Catch Counterfeit on tour across the UK and Europe this Spring