These Wicked Rivers – II EP


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I had heard a track from These Wicked Rivers and so had a small idea of their sound but this EP made me smile from ear to ear.  I love the richness of sound that this band makes with the deep emotional quality that the tracks have.  This is a very grown up and accomplished EP and makes me think this is a band that deserves to go places.

These Wicked Rivers come from Derby and were formed in February 2014.  They have gone on to impress all and sundry since their inception with their brand of modern rock, influenced by (amongst others) Black Stone Cherry and Clutch. They released their debut E.P “The Enemy” in July 2015 which landed the band slots at Butlins Live Music Weekenders in January 2016 and a slot at YNot Festival in the summer of 2016.   This EP was recorded with Ben Gaines at Artifex Studios in Derby.

The band are: John Hartwell – Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar, Arran Day – Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals, Jon Hallam – Bass and Dan Southall – Drums.

2017 is looking like a busy year for the band as they’ll be playing 2Q Festival in Derby on the same line up as Milburn, Pulled Apart By Horses, Temples and Arcane Roots. They’re opening for Blue Rock sensation Tax the Heat. They’re returning to previously played rallies and festivals and confirming for new ones regularly, so hopefully you will be able to catch them near you.

Wicked River Blues brings this EP into life, starting with a soulful and plaintive chant backed up with drums which made me think of a chain gang working on the roads, with their picks hitting the ground and the chant keeping everyone in time.  When the verse starts, I was overwhelmed by the depth and intensity of John’s vocals which is backed up beautifully and helps to increase the intensity.

Stones Painted Gold is a contrast to the first track as we are in full on rock mode with resonant, growling guitars, that tempt you in.  John’s vocals are rich with emotion, combining perfectly with energetic drumming and contrasting skewed riffs.  The tempo of this track changes to allow the listener a bit of space to catch up and take a breath before building again into syncopated bass lines and sweet, singing riffs that become lush and vibrant.

If you prefer tracks that get your head nodding from the get go then That Girl is the one for you.  There is a massive conversation between the guitars as the riffs go back and forth, with the bass providing drama and interest.  Soaring riffs which lift and emphasis the brooding quality of the vocals add texture.  This is a very catchy track that had me grinning from ear to ear and head nodding along.  I cannot wait to hear this track played live.  It has everything that you could wish from a modern rock track.

When The War is Won is a slower track, which emphasises the quality of the playing.  The drums bring a flavour to the intensity of the track, that is like a heart beat in the background, whilst the bass line and guitars bring a mournful quality.  As this track builds the expressive vocals bring real passion, which is emphasised beautifully with the hypnotic, shimmering riffs and deep bass line.  The guitars add moments of luminosity in a deep, dark menacing track.

For me Testify has a bluesy feel initially but then this is thrown out of the window by the wall of sound made by the guitars and drums, that hit you around a bit, before moving back to a slower pace and so this conversation continues throughout the track.  The vocals are much more gravelly on this track, combined with the distorted riffs and bass line, changes in tempo and feel that give this track plenty to keep you interested.

Put Me On Trial (For Who I Am) swings back between the deep, resonant bass line and the free flowing, smooth riffs.  This is a clever mix of catchy lyrics with thundering drums that roll along, building up providing balance to the guitars.  This is another of those toe tapping tracks, it has a flavour of Clutch for me but this is These Wicked Rivers own sound and boy, do they do it well.

An organ is the opening of Don’t Pray For Me with John’s heartbreaking vocals that drip with emotion and feeling.  It reminded me slightly of Human by Rag n Bone Man at the start.  The pulse picks up as the bass and guitars force their way in, the riffs giving a fluid, spacy feel that have an hallucinogenic vibe.  They rise and sparkle whilst the bass is full and grinding, getting the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up and take notice.  This is a gritty, emotional track that cleverly combines space with stunning and grown up riffs, fat, distorted bass lines and sympathetic drumming.

At the end of this EP there is only really one thing to do and that is press play and listen to the whole thing again.  I would urge you to spend some of your hard earned cash on this EP.  Your ears will thank you and so will your friends when you recommend this band to them This band draws their many influences together and makes the sound their own.  This is a very accomplished EP, which will appeal to rock and blues fans and may even convert some others in to Rockers!


Social Media Links:-

Official Site –

Facebook –

Twitter – @Wickedrivers

Instagram – @thesewickedrivers


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