Rapid Reviews: Progressive EditionPosted 02/17/2014 10:47AM by Nick Senior as Article
In case you were not excited by my previous lists of rapid reviews, here is a list that should have something for everyone. There is post-rock, classic prog rock, metalcore, and dream pop. So get at it!
Junius - Days of the Fallen Sun
RIYL: Constants, City of Ships, *shels
Fans of the site (and my awesome reviews) will know that Junius is definitely one of the bands we’ve kept our collective eyes on very closely. The band’s unique blend of post-rock, sludge, and space rock creates an absolutely massive sound. Junius’ latest EP bridges their previous two full-lengths. The post-rock elements from their debut are back in the forefront, but the anthemic choruses from the sophomore record are here in spades as well. The most notable difference is how powerful the guitars are here. Instead of serving merely as an atmospheric element, they often get decidedly heavy. This has the potential to be my most disappointing album of 2014, only because it’s not longer. Junius arguably has never sounded better.
Dream the Electric Sleep - Heretics
RIYL: Classic psychedelic prog rock
I have never liked Pink Floyd, yet my respect for what they’ve done for music is apparent in how much I often like bands that sound like them. Kentucky’s own Dream the Electric Sleep is the type of band that clearly could trace their musical heritage to that classic group; however, there is much more going on here. The band could have gone in my stoner shorties, since there is a definite psychedelic bend to the music, yet Heretics is so much more focused than that label would suggest. Instead, the entirety of this album is truly impressive. It’s a lost relic: the type of album that is meant to be heard all at once, and on loud speakers. It’s also particularly enjoyable as a driving record, as the way the music ebbs and flows allows for the listening experience to be quite immersive. What is particularly of note is how oddly the vocals are used here - they are gorgeous and often in harmony, yet they are a mere compositional piece. The melodies feel just as important as the guitars, the drums, and the bass, even if they do occasionally attempt dominance. It’s that delicacy of sound that catapults Dream the Electric Sleep above the mounds of throwback-rock groups. This isn’t merely an attempt to attract listeners of a certain ilk. Heretics feels like the type of album that would be impressive in any decade, especially if the idea of a more focused Pink Floyd sounds interesting.
Ice Nine Kills - The Predator Becomes the Prey
RIYL: Memphis May Fire, August Burns Red, My Chemical Romance
Our own Zach Roth found a very interesting way to feature this band recently, however, I wanted to cover the band in a more serious light. This is the type of music that really has no business working. It’s over-dramatic, so “scene” it hurts, and features some awful album art. However, there was a period of about a week that I had this album on repeat. Despite tons of member turnover, Ice Nine Kills has never sounded better. Theirs is a sound that bridges the melodic elements of Risecore with the semi-technical aspects of a band like August Burns Red. However, what really sold me on this band is the way they incorporate theatrical elements. “The Fastest Way to a Girl’s Heart Is Through Her Ribcage” sounds right out of a gothic play, even if the lyrics are more eye-roll worthy than a teenager’s journal entry. It is the next track that then really nails what the band does well. “The Product of Hate” is exceptionally melodic, with the type of vocal melodies that will be stuck in your head for days. The music is competent enough to keep your interest as well. I know it sounds like I am giving the band a bunch of back-handed compliments, but that’s basically how I feel about the album. I shouldn’t like the album as much as I do, as it is merely an above-average metalcore album. However, the band’s all-or-nothing attitude is infectious, and that mindset carries over onto the listener.
Living Phantoms - Shiver
RIYL: Dream Pop, Constants
Side projects are often more miss than hit. I get that those who are more talented than I want to explore those talents fully, but I am usually quite skeptical of any side ventures. Thankfully, Will Benoit, the guitarist and vocalist of Constants, falls decidedly into the “hit” column. His band recently explored a much more dream pop-centric sound on its excellent Pasiflora, and Will’s side project finds that sound fully fleshed-out. Oddly enough, I find this EP more entertaining than most of what Pitchfork or Sputnikmusic tells me I should look for in dream pop. Maybe it’s because these songs feel more fleshed-out than most in the genre. There are stronger electronic and rock elements at play, which help shape Will’s vision. It’s clear that this was not merely an excuse to push out half-assed ideas. Living Phantoms has released a surprisingly great EP full of what I never knew I wanted: gorgeous dream pop.