Half an hour south of London, England is a town called Guilford. It’s not exactly a place where I’d expect to find an amazing grunge band playing frequent shows and helping to build a grunge scene in the UK. Nonetheless, that’s the case. Since 2012, Free Recovery has been laying down the grooves in Guilford while also branching out to London and other surrounding areas to spread their music. After going through numerous member changes in the early days, a solid lineup finally clicked in 2014. From that point on, things really started coming together for the band.
Although the vocals are reminiscent of Eddie Vedder and Free Recovery’s music is similar to Pearl Jam, they certainly have more to offer than being just a knock-off of a classic grunge band. The band also seems to pull from Alice In Chains, Creed, Stone Temple Pilots and many of the classic rockers from the 70s.
Their self-titled debut EP was released in 2015. The 6-song EP opens with the sound of radio static that tunes into a radio station playing the acoustic intro to the first song, Furtherman, with studio wizardry similar to that utilized on the intro of the Pink Floyd song Wish You Were Here. As the band kicks in, the song blasts away from the radio and becomes the great audio quality that will be present on the rest of the EP. Furtherman is a slow, heavy rocker that reminds me a lot of Pearl Jam.
Our Summer Is Dead begins with some cool drumming under a mellow guitar part but quickly turns into a hard rocking song with vocals that sound like a newscaster broadcasting news about war. The chorus is the only part of the song that’s sung in a traditional fashion, but the chorus has a great hook both vocally and musically. What appears to be dueling guitars take turns for a solo that becomes more and more dissonant and out of key until they battle each other simultaneously building up to the outro of the song.
The band mellows out on Vintage Sky, a tune that sounds new but feels familiar. It begins with the crackles and pops that you would hear when listening to a vinyl record. The song builds into a slow, ballad style rocker, similar to the band Creed. It’s the kind of song that I could hear being used on a movie soundtrack. The song ends with the sound of a record looping in the runoff groove.
Denial begins as a mid-tempo acoustic rocker that builds up with the addition of distorted guitar. It’s a solid song that reminds me a lot of Pearl Jam. Unfortunately, much like the Pearl Jam songs it brings to mind, it’s kind of generic. There’s nothing wrong with the song at all and I suspect that upon repeat listens, it’s the kind of song that would grow on me, but after two listens to this collection of songs, Denial is the least memorable of the six songs on the EP.
With a name like Swamp Thing, it should be no surprise that there’s more than a little bit of southern rock influence on this track. Although I wouldn’t confuse it with Lynnard Skynnard or Molly Hatchet, Swamp Thing has a very similar, slinky groove and dexterous guitar work. The song really rocks and includes probably the best guitar playing and certainly my favorite guitar solo on the album. This is the track that really shows off the band’s musical skills while offering up a great vibe as well.
The EP concludes with the song Mary Rose, an emotional, ethereal song that showcases the vocals beneath a wide echo. Although definitely a rock song, there is a heavy psychedelic groove and touches of Celtic influence on this one. It may be the farthest song on the album from grunge, but it’s a wonderful song nonetheless.
Overall, with this EP Free Recovery succeeds in stretching their musical chops and offering the listener a range of styles that shows how wide their pallet of influences must be. The total playing time is actually longer than several full-length releases that I’ve reviewed over the years, so despite only including six tracks, the amount of music is more than the EP designation would suggest. Fans of Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Creed and the classic rock side of grunge should definitely check out Free Recovery at the band’s website here: freerecovery.band