I'd never heard of Black Market Serotonin before, but I liked the band's name so much that I decided I'd review their new EP. Some might argue my decision had no rational basis; others that it was simply stupid. I would agree with both. From now on, I intend to thoroughly research my options before choosing. Life lesson learnt. That said, Dead By Five O'Clock isn't an unmitigated disaster, in fact, it's quite an enjoyable listen at times. But, sadly, the band just don't quite live up to their awesome name.

As EPs go, this is a pretty long one, lasting thirty minutes across five tracks. The first three songs 'Dead by five o'clock', 'The end of history' and 'Revelation one' are moody mixtures of snarling rock and buzzing electronics in the vein of Nine Inch Nails. However, the tracks never achieve the unsettling menace or exciting richness of Trent Reznor's compositions, opting instead for some Guns N' Roses style fret-wanking and some pretty cheesy synth work. Still, despite these shortcomings, the songs are undeniably catchy and boast some superb drumming as well as some nice little touches here and there.

The final two songs on the EP could almost have been recorded by a different band. The first, called 'Clarity', is quite an upbeat track, especially compared to the rest of Dead By Five O'Clock, and so comes as a nice change of pace. It's a little reminiscent of The Gaslight Anthem, but also has a strong touch of nineties British indie to it.

The EP is capped off with the best song of the five, 'Hours'. Unlike the rest of the songs, which all start with either feedback or electronic fuzz, 'Hours' begins with the sound of rain falling. This gives way to the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar, accompanied by a lazy rhythm from the drums and bass. There's a genuine tenderness to the song that, oddly, recalls the music of Matthew Jay. It's spoilt only by the keyboard, which has that horrible lounge tone to it and the band's inability to resist a triumphant guitar solo crescendo. The strength of the latter is severely diminished by the fact that it is so expected and, as a result, makes 'Hours' seem less sincere.

It is the unexpected, which is really missing from these tracks. Black Market Serotonin are clearly very talented musicians who know how to construct a decent song and I'll take a syringe full of bleach to anyone who says otherwise. However, it has to be said that, although they seem to style themselves as modern prog rockers, their sound appears to be stuck in the past. Dead By Five O'Clock is by no means a bad EP, but Black Market Serotonin need to experiment more and update their art if they're to build upon their foundation of skills and produce something mind-blowing.

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