Emerging onto the battlefield, suited in black t-shirts with one name, two words, emblazoned across their chests in the illusion of sharp white paint, the fanbase stands strong. At the forefront of their march are four men, carrying their weapons of choice: a bass, two guitars, and a pair of drumsticks. The ground around them is layered with their ‘Shadows’, and rolling clouds thunder around their riffs like a double kick on the bass drum pedal. Their direction is heading ‘To The Light’, driving the future of rock and metal that tastes like bittersweet salute to the glory days of Metallica and Iron Maiden. Boots on the line, a whisper runs over the army, like a dark prayer to the ones who lay out the musical path for them to charge over, “If The Gods Be Good.”
Three singles released, soon to be four, and a debut album on the horizon make Unknown Refuge an ally to stand by. The four-piece hail from Bolton and have a resonance so familiar that you know it’s how rock should sound, yet so original you know it’s them making the genre their own.
Alex Mancini, lead singer and bassist, gave me a great insight on the band’s purpose for their presence on the rock and metal scene – “We’re playing the music we enjoy,” he told me, “We all enjoy metal and performing.”
The band as a whole prioritise their own and the fans’ enjoyment of the music they play, which in turn fuels their drive to keep making music. One scroll through their social pages, be it Twitter, Facebook or Instagram (see below for links) and you can see how their upkeep of communication displays them as key carers of those that make them ‘what [they] are.’ Mountains of support stand behind Unknown Refuge, made up of Alex, drummer Morgan Deveney, and guitarists Jack Tracey and Harry Skinner, and it’s easy to see why; their music is fantastic.
If you’re addicted to guitar riffs and catchy basslines, smooth vocals and beats to headbang to, then you’re going to be more than excited for From The Darkness. Alex defined the album as portraying a struggle, a journey, a conflict. Piling together lyrics written down between 2016 and now, it navigates feelings from the time and experiences that fuel this striving effort that the band inject into their performances and recordings. Their image follows this personalised touch as they ensure to align their personalities with their genre.
“You get pictures of groups standing against a brick wall,” Alex says when I ask about their recently released teasers for ‘Battle Hymn’, “We want to be recognisable as hard rock and metal, but not exactly like that generic old-school rock.”
The videos mash their music with pop culture, with one of my personal favourites being the Friends edit whereby Ross tells his monkey, Marcel, not to put a CD into the player but, once he does, ‘Battle Hymn’ begins to play. It’s such an original, modern spin on building anticipation for the new release that it sets them well apart in character, yet keeps them true to the genre they have devoted their incredible talents to. There will not be a moment that they are not relevant, in the same way that the truthful old slogan goes, ‘Rock isn’t dead.’ Young patrons for the music they love, Unknown Refuge are not just exploring and walking in the footsteps of the giants in the business, but creating their own right beside them and catching up fast.
Their debut album comes as a learning curve, with the men making valuable contacts in the modern rock world that have allowed them to reach their full potential with this release. With the material they have accumulated over the years since formation, there was plenty for them to work with and compose alongside, yet the rock ribbon tying it all together was their family of fans whom they could release it to. Taking advice from mentors across the country and developing Unknown Refuge as a band and brand, they’ve carved their mark securely in the metal world and hit the ground marching, singing, drumming and strumming with an ease that only comes this naturally to the best of the best.
So, the army marches forwards, amicably united in admiration and enjoyability of Unknown Refuge, a name I can see soon headlining some of the biggest festivals globally. Maloik’s in the air, everyone, as they take to the stage and serenade you out From The Darkness.
Article by Caitlin Colley
Photograph by James Ryan Photography