Heist at Five is an electro/hard rock band based in London, UK, but in a sense they’re also an international band, with roots in several countries. Band front man and lead vocalist Oskar Abrahamsson and production guru Kim Björnram are from Sweden, but moved to London to study music. Bassist Marco “Fuzz” Paone hails from Turin, Italy, and guitarist Jozef Veselsky is from Slovakia, leaving drummer Josh Needham as the only British-born band member. (Paone and Needham are also bassist and drummer for Oli Barton & the Movement, who I’ve featured on this blog a number of times.) Their aggressive, innovative sound borders on experimental rock, with complex melodies, intricate chord progressions and wicked electronic and guitar-heavy instrumentation.
Heist at Five released their debut EP The Blacklist in February, and I’m here to tell my readers why they should listen to it. Kicking things off with a blast of fuzzy throbbing synths and a pounding drumbeat, “Intelligence” immediately whets our appetite for what’s to come. And what is that, you ask? It’s a fucking eargasm of furious riffs, psychedelic synths and thunderous percussion, that’s what. The instrumentation is amazing, with unexpected change-ups and all sorts of interesting sounds that make for an unsettling yet exciting listen. Oskar’s powerful vocals are marvelous as he goes from a menacing seductiveness one moment to savage screams the next. (I also love his Swedish accent that shines through.) It’s all a perfect match for the provocative lyrics about authoritarian thought-control: “So just close your eyes so you can see. And realize that I’m controlling from within. I guide you through love and pain. I’ll lead you through your life without leaving your brain. I’m defying the concept of what’s false and true. Especially made for you. / Who am I? I’m the intelligence.”
Here’s a great live performance of “Intelligence” that really showcases the band’s energy and charisma:
The guys keep that energy flowing with the hard-driving “One Moment.” Opening with a rapid, hip hop synth beat, the track bursts open with roiling gritty guitars played by Huw Roberts (the previous lead guitarist who is no longer with the band), and Josh’s tumultuous drums, while Marco keeps it all grounded with a solid bass line. Once again, the band skillfully employs sharp melodic shifts and elaborate instrumentation, including flourishes of distorted guitar, quirky synths and Kim’s hauntingly beautiful keyboard riff, to create an outstanding track. And it goes without saying that Oskar kills it with his passionate vocals.
“Three Steps Behind” is perhaps the catchiest track on the EP, with its arresting melody and galloping riffs. To my ears, the song has a bit of an Incubus vibe, and even Oskar’s vocal style on this track reminds me of Brandon Boyd. The band continues to amaze with “The Island,” serving up gorgeous keyboards and intricate, jaw-dropping guitar work. Oskar’s soaring emotionally-charged vocals bring goosebumps once again.
The guys save the best for last, with the magnificent tour-de-force “When Eternity is Here.” The track opens with a captivating bass-driven Tango-like melody, accompanied by an achingly beautiful synth riff and snare drum. Oskar fervently sings “All of us watch a never-ending road. We are pushed by the wind. No one allowed to stop. And the holes in the ground grows bigger every day.” His vocal passion rises along with the instrumentals in the chorus, where sounds of sirens lend an ominous sense of unease as he wails: “Where are you my friend? I can see our world’s in danger. / Come to me, my dear, my darling. Our world’s disappearing. Everything will change for us when eternity is here.” The guitars and keyboards in the bridge are spine-tingling, and so is this phenomenal track.
Heist At Five have set the bar quite high with their impressive debut EP, but given their collective talents, I’m confident they’ll daze our ears with their next musical efforts.
Band photos by Shotison Media