This music doesn’t quite put its strongest foot forward. The lengthy, drawn out passages of minimal engaging material take up most of the work and show no real purpose. Much of that comes down to the mostly ordinary, sluggish sound from the small acoustic instrumentation. The guitar remained the cornerstone of the sound throughout the album and never provided any interesting delivery on a structural level. This is evident in songs like “Spook” and “Question of Faith”, where the guitar was only pounding power chords in simple meters or making slow, twang-like bends that had no conviction or direction. The vocals, while having character in the delivery, were simply too lackluster in range and didn’t take control of being the top textural layer like it needed to be. Also, rarely did a repeated musical idea have any emotional bearing or grasping melodic features. The song “Echo” was the only one with a strong, well-shaped chorus and melodic motives worthy of their repetition. Lots of monotony crept in everywhere else, and without any true sonic interest or firm emotional intent, much of this album fell quite flat. However, this music was also not very far away from being quite powerful and truly enjoyable. In fact, I think it’s a decent album overall. The real worth is shown to those who listen to these songs all the way through without distraction. In doing so, we find that most every song has some sort of coda that eventually brings out a compelling musical idea that the music then rides on until the song’s end. Songs like “King of Bones”, “Calling Them All Away”, and “Circus Bazooko” found a very interesting way to develop the once uninteresting structure and deliver something of worth, be it a new harmony thrown into the existing loop or a synthesizer lick that essentially woke up the song and took over the texture. These moments were strong and showed true musicality; the problem is that they came too late and were never made the basis of the music. Many of these songs were not well formed in that regard. It’s not a problem with the album’s length; as long as it’s not ugly or abrasive, I actually enjoy being able to experience an hour’s worth of music, if not more, in one sitting. It’s rather a problem with what was chosen to be the focus, and subsequently what was chosen to be the frilly excess. The excess that the band added on was actually the development of their original ideas that needed to be featured over what actually was. It was these moments that deserved the repetition, not what preceded them. Building to the ends of those songs most likely took a lot of time and thought, which is what good development requires. Instead of just being in the mind frame of how to end an idea, the musicians should have been working in the mind frame of how to improve the idea. In that case, these songs would have been much more balanced, more sonically interesting, more emotive, and had much stronger direction. Instead, what we get are some nice codas at the end of textural builds that took too long and shouldn’t have been needed in the first place. The most important thing, though, is that we got the well-developed ideas somehow, and they do have the ability to stick with you. Again, nothing matched the consistency of the song “Echo”, but there’s some small enjoyment to be found throughout the work. I can’t necessarily recommend the whole thing, but if you listen to the first couple of songs and really find yourself engaged, then I’d say you’d really enjoy it all. There’s some neat stuff in here, I just think it could have been used much more effectively.

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