New Zealand

12 mins

Rating 90/100

Under the formidable shadow of Mount Taranaki, on the West coast of New Zealand’s North Island, is to be found a wonderful resurgence of rock/ska fusion, the product of the five-piece band ‘System Exit’. A band that trades the notion of providing high-energy, beautifully melodic reggae-influenced rock music. Music that stirs the soul and, without compulsion guides you to the dance floor to strut and sway.  A band that, for me,  rekindles the musical impact of ‘The Specials’ albeit that ‘System Exit’ employ a much purer less punk-influenced version of their Ska output although incorporating the sharp rock guitar intrusions akin to ‘The Specials’.

Their three-track EP is clearly a cleverly managed selection of songs which, without doubt, perform as a showcase of their abilities. A kind of cross-section from their set list comprising three tunes which together amply demonstrates their professionalism, instrumental skills and compositional prowess.

In Chris Wilkes, they have a superb frontman blessed with purity of tone and a singing style that, whilst paying homage to the Jamaican reggae roots of musical fusion, retains a distinct rock edge to his vocal output. The beautiful phrasing of Rory’s lead guitar with interludes of piercing staccato riffs add an extra dimension to the music whilst the solid jerky reggae bass guitar lines and powerful drumming maintain and push the music ever forward. The psychedelic/rock/ska fusion sound is further enhanced with layers of well-considered keyboard arrangements both as arrangement fills and individual spills!

Summary, An absolutely superb selection of songs issued as an EP capturing both the band’s musical ability and rock/ska fusion sound stylisation. The EP certainly serves to whet one’s appetite but is far too short to satisfy one’s hunger for more. Hopefully, an LP is on the horizon. It would be great to see this band live, hopefully outside of NZ in Europe maybe where they will do well. However, I read somewhere that another keyboard is required before they can take more fully to the road. Let’s hope that can be accomplished. Superb artwork too portraying Mount Taranaki

Band Members:
Chris Wilkes (rhythm guitar, lead vocals)
Christian Jacobsoni Rangel (drums)
Jacinta Lawrence (keyboards)
Rory MacDonald (lead guitar)
Velvet Scarletta (bass guitar)


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