ALBUM REVIEW: STATES OF EMOTION – BLACK & WHITE TO GOLD

9/10

INTERVIEW: OLLY HOOKINGS from STATES OF EMOTION 2

After a tumultuous start in the music business, Rainham, Essex ’s States of Emotion had what seemed like an amazing start. On the back of their self-released single, The Unsung in 2010, they got signed and toured in support of The Enemy, but then things went sour. Mishandled and pretty much shelved by their previous label for 3 years, the lads’ career almost never came to fruition.

Members left and weren’t replaced and the remaining members (Olly Hookings and Bonzai) were forced to take menial jobs to live. Persistent in spite of everything and with support voiced by the likes Tom Clarke (The Enemy) they returned to the studio. They finally release their début album, Black and White to Gold via their own record label on 15th February. My first impressions always stick with me and in this case, I was struck by Olly Hookings’ vocal similarity to AFI frontman Davey Havoc, but their huge backing tracks are more reminiscent of the likes of 30 Seconds to Mars and U2. Their songs are massive, guitar driven and anthemic, for want of a better pigeon-hole, they are very much a stadium rock band.

The album is so big, it’s hard to pick tracks which really stand out, not because they don’t but because they all do! After much deliberation, I believe that he biggest and greatest tracks on the LP form a trio right in the middle in the form of Brooksy’s Box, Back to Back and Seeking Oblivion. All 3 are massive, more so as they are bolstered with strings and sing along choruses. Ironically, the single, Rag n’ Bone Men, which follows this trio is light, more electronic and probably the least best illustration of their musical capabilities. Not that it’s a bad track, it’s just an unprecedented break in their style that actually gives a much needed and welcome mid-LP change of pace which serves to keep things interesting.

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Following Rag ’n Bone Men, Slowly starts with a minimalistic, vocal driven verse which provides an unadulterated listen to Olly’s voice. Until this point it’s easy to miss how good it really is. While it’s not as raw as the gravelly rock frontmen of the nineties and noughties, it has a cleaner power and range which cuts through that cliché screaming style favoured by many of his peers. As the track is layered back up, they expertly rebuild the sound and pace to the finish.

All in all, this album is great, it’s different and above all, they’ve brought something fresh and interesting to the rock table. It suffices to say I’ll be following my fellow Essex boys with interest and hope that their rocky start turns into an illustrious career. They’ve certainly proved that they’re able with Black and White to Gold.

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