In the past where Shields have truly excelled is in their ability to be one step ahead of the curve. Rather than sticking to what was the flavor of the day, their back catalogue possesses technicality as well as brutality delivered at a higher caliber than most of their peers and ‘Guilt’ continues in the same vein. ‘I’ve Dealt With Worse’ opens with delicate electronics before delivering heated breakdowns and unrelenting anguish without a second thought, while on the other face of their barbarity the band inject lingering and dark atmosphere into the background. Such as on the stalking ‘No Hope’, demonstrating a real knack for a melodic refrain.
Within this enticing contrast though lies one of the EP’s only real niggles. Though raucously delirious, the guitars often dominate tracks and leave more of a sour taste than probably intended. No fault of the band, but where they could be delivering something truly harrowing it is cloaked too thickly in a punishing breakdown. Regardless though, Shields play with such vigor and malice that they simply cannot be written off. The title track oozes with ugly confessional darkness while ‘Jordan’ is poignant and devastating in equally emphatic style. ‘But This Feels Worse’ is the real jewel in the crown, with dainty guitars matched up against angst ridden vocals building into a crashing crescendo of anxiety and sadness. Where many bands let a glimmer of hope shine through, Shields keep a lock down on happiness and make sure everything they touch turns to ghastly dust.
All in all, ‘Guilt’ is a hurricane of cathartic grimace, bleak outlook and bludgeoning riffs. The band have honed in on their ever-expanding strengths and delivered five songs that are strong enough to stand up against the big boys. Though it’s not entirely watertight and there’s still plenty of room for growth and development, with the momentum ‘Guilt’ has the potential to create Shields could be the next big wave to bother the wider scene.
‘Guilt’ EP by Shields is out now.
Words by Jack Rogers (@JackMRog)