Review Roundup: After The Burial, Antonio Paul, The Boys and Crash, White Walls
As if scoffing at all the hubbub surrounding their nu(prog)metal scene, After The Burial takes a decisive step back from their overwrought-but-encouraging sophomore Rareform. The result is unadulterated silliness across the board, complete with awkward balladeering and glam-tera flirtation. Though still owning a knack for writing solid grooves, the transitions are more translucent than ever; I suppose what originally began as an attempt to provide a more organic palate has instead forced an overall sluggishness upon In Dreams. It’s not just the tracks’ bones that feel paper thin, but the sound job as well- it’s a factory job that did not anticipate the capacity of their instruments’ tone and the heavy content of the material. This decidedly more “metal” offering has swamped the band in more of its own kitsch, further convincing listeners that this less a misstep and more an end of the line.
A wuvable mash up of easy listening emo and self-aware dream pop. Really, it strikes me as …& So I Watch You From Afar spooning SoftCell. The whole celebration of it all is easy to get wrapped up in; there is nothing really snide or sub-textual about it. Treasures works better as a single than potential introductory EP to the band; the dynamics remain static over the course of the three tracks, never diverging in tone and shape. It’s detrimental, yes, but not unforgivable. It would be hasty to say that this and the outfit’s probably forthcoming efforts are insubstantial – these songs capitalize on their design and make no promises beyond the feel-goodisms of a suitable summer soundtrack.
Thankfully, The Boys and Crash draw more from the dance punk flair of the Scott Pilgrim source material than the robotic shitfest that was its film adaptation. Enthusiastically derivative as they are, these songs at least do not possess the dead eyed gait and drawling reproductions of Vs. The World’s soundtrack; at its best, it breaks from its commercial late-90′s punk adoration into extravagant fall-aparts akin to Pinkerton. The mandibles come out on the highlights “God Owes us a Few” and “Can’t Drive this Car Sober”, both tapping into a punx cynicism that adds some much needed carbonation to the disc’s middle section. Not necessarily at its worst, but at its consistently mediocre we wade through radio d-beat that is fit for the local bar band circuit and not a meaningful album experience. Ultimately, what is to value most is Thieves‘ undeniable gusto, harmless as it is.
While Dream Theater tends (often mistakenly) to the exotic, White Walls instead keep it homegrown; far be it for me to evaluate a Romanian stamp on the Western dominated metal scene (I like to think I listen to enough Negura Bunget), White Walls play faithfully to the glory days of progressive metal while maintaining a stronger attention to groove. The band commands a foundational mood with brief riff embellishments that works in the much the same way The Binary Code does. Virtuosity is often not far off – hear no further than the tasteful-but-expressive bass presence for evidence. But it is not merely a geo-cultural side dip that keeps ears at attention; “Sinners” treats rhythm as a tool rather than containing device, and after contributing a solid intro, we get some future thrash that bleeds attitude 99% of this metal canon lacks. Mad Man Circus is always busy and more than often rewarding; it does not do as background music, but invites a scrutiny that I wish more progressive metal had the confidence for.
note: “Curtains” could be an accomplished EP in and of itself. This song alone should serve as a manual for upstarts in the heavy progressive scene.