For anyone immersed in the more interesting, underground world of UK rock, chances are you’ll have come across Bad Sign, the Croydon trio who’ve shared stages with the likes of Arcane Roots, Devil Sold His Soul and Feed The Rhino, and dropped their critically-acclaimed ‘Destroy’ EP back in 2014. Pretty much singlehandedly, that one release seems to have sparked the band’s momentum to a staggering degree, the sort of angular, brooding yet ultimately melodic material that so many of the UK’s best emerging bands have taken for themselves.
It also looks Bad Sign’s name can be added to that list, as ‘Live & Learn’ is the most emphatic of triumphs. Here, the melody has been turned up by a few notches, but there’s still a foot firmly placed in the heavier world, and meshes together the two in virtually seamless fashion. Tracks like ‘Covenant’ and ‘Immutable’ surge along with access to both melody and rumbling power, while ‘October’ plays it much more restrained and light.
The band that Bad Sign are probably most comparable to in this regard is Fightstar, given the mixing of traditional Britrock with metallic elements, and those similarities become even more numerous with further exploration. The guitar tone on the likes of ‘Attrition’ and the title track have the gusto and muscle of Simpson and co.’s louder moments (plus the occasional dips into more cinematic territory speak for themselves), and while Joe Appleford has a similarly loose, unrefined voice, it arguably works better here given the focus on the heavier side of the sound.
And ultimately, that’ll be what continues to push Bad Sign forward. This is rock being as raw and unhinged as it likes, and even with its more melodic affectations, ‘Live & Learn’ doesn’t compromise in that regard. They might be just a tad to abrasive to break above ground just yet, but that only means that Bad Sign can remain one of the underground’s best kept secrets for the time being.
‘Live & Learn’ by Bad Sign is released on 14th July on Basick Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)