Upon their signing to Smalltown America Records, More Than Conquerors now find themselves in both familiar and esteemed company in the Northern Ireland music scene – including but not limited to And So I Watch You From Afar, LaFaro, Fighting With Wire, Oppenheimer et al.
It is clear though, that this propound to have something more subtle, and more profound to offer.Whether knowingly or unknowingly (though it is difficult to see it being unintentional), the group has littered their pieces with Biblical references and allusions. Their first, self titled EP, from a thematic and lyrical standpoint; expressed a not so atypical youthful angst, anger and passion –‘Darling we all have dreams, I don’t think we’ll make it through’ Kris Platt swooned on 'I’ve Done Nothing / I’ve Done It All', a track which contained much more than slight nods in the direction of the post-hardcore of Thrice and, in particular, mewithoutYou (a band whose central message is a type of humble, yet unreserved Christian proselytizing scheme).
Lest we forget the band’s name itself being contained in a phrase from Romans; ‘Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.’
The phrase comes within a passage dedicated to defiance against earthly troubles, material deterioration, and physical slavery; wherein Paul the Apostle assures his readers that through Christianity – the earth is conquered. The Northern Ireland’s four-piece’s usage of the phrase though, at times appears at once ironic and as a type of rebellious blasphemy - ‘Yes I have my Bible in my hands / But it feels like I’m reading it to the walls.’ Platt cries on 'Hunting For the Whale'.
Let it not be mistaken, that thematically, More Than Conquerors songs are wonderfully grandiose; sharp, clean, and deceivingly simple. Their crescendoing harmonies, coupled with chord based riffs, and intensified with chants in unison; is a repeatable theme replete throughout the More Than Conquerors slowly growing catalogue. Whilst 'Boots and Bones' repeats many of the stylistic triumphs from their self-titled debut EP, it does so with a growing identity, polish and maturity. Some reviews have criticized, for example, 'Hunting For The Whale' – as an artistic step back from Crooked Old World (both songs are a seeming ballad-style break in each EP, 'Hunting For The Whale' being the one found in 'Boots and Bones'). Such a viewpoint though, I feel fails to appreciate the layered intensity and experiementality which the band explored through this balladic interposition. There is not a weak track on this EP – through from 'Oh My Son!' to 'A Lion, A Man'.
If I were to formulate a criticism of the More Than Conquerors' approach here though, is that I am struggling to see how this style will translate into a full LP. Both EPs have followed a very similar song structure, though steady improvements have no doubt been made. The triumphalism found in standout track 'A Lion, A Man' is so because it deals with the complexities of a post-hardcore sound so well, and should they be comfortable with their sound, it is one they could certainly pursue successfully; reminding me, as it does, as a mewithoutYou on the verge of the release of 'Catch Us For The Foxes'. This aside though, this is certainly the standout release from any independent Northern Ireland outfit in the past six months.