Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stand Before The Firing Squad - Noise Machine (2006)

New Addition! I'll be posting one song from the album at the top of the blog from now on. This little delight is The Shadow's Whisperer.

I'm starting to realize I review a disproportionate amount of Mathcore albums, but how can I not when they're all so good? Noise Machine is no exception. Unlike SBTFS' first release, which was very straightforward mathcore album, Noise Machine finds itself neck deep in experimental influences. The first track goes back and forth between intense mathcore goodness and jazzy prog rock segments. The prog segments change up often enough and use enough different sounds/textures to keep your attention throughout. A big problem I have with Experimental Mathcore is when bands get too caught up in a jazzy piece or some other experimental concept and they end up becoming repetitive or uninteresting. Stand Before the Firing Squad knows not to cross that line, they make sure to always have something changing to grab your attention. The next track is more akin to post rock in nature, and the track after that (titled "Lord Have Mercy") is just….well, I don't know if you can call it a song. It's spoken word with different background noises, distortions, echoes and whatnot all being carried forward by a quite drum beat. Usually I can't get into tracks like that, but there's something about the delivery of this one that compels me to press the back button once it's finished. The rest of the album keeps up this pattern, one song will be a grueling mathcore shred sesh, the next will be an alluring medley of jazz/prog/post-rock. Sometimes the band will switch band and forth from heavy to jazzy multiple times a song, like flicking a light switch on and off really quick. Around halfway through the album something changes, the line between the heavy and the experimental begins to blur, what were once two distinctly different things start to combine into one sound."The Bad Heart Ruse" is a great example of this, it's heavy, off timed, and abrasive but there's clear prog-rock influences in the guitar work. The closing track, "The Shadow's Whisperer", is the perfect ending to this album. All the concepts that were touched on throughout the CD are fully flushed out here. This song is just four minutes of prog rock/jazz fusing with intense mathcore in a way that only Stand Before the Firing Squad could pull off. All in all this is a solid Experimental Mathcore album. It can be really experimental without coming off as pretentious, it can flush out it's ideas without getting lost in them, and in doing so is able to keep the listeners attention easily, a problem a lot of bands of this genre face. If you're a fan of this kinda music you're gonna love this one. If you like heavy music but haven't treaded into these experimental waters just yet, this album would serve as a nice introduction. The thing about Experimental Mathcore is that although a lot of the bands follow similar formulas when it comes to songwriting, the ingredients they use, their influences, are all different. What you end up with is a similar end product with its own unique flavor. It's really a shame that more people don't know about these guys, they're relatively unheard of (which is where I come in…heh) and presumed broken up, since no one's heard a peep out of them in the last few years. It's a shame this band never got the notoriety it deserved, Stand Before The Firing Squad could have been one of the powerhouses of the genre if they got the attention they deserved. Andd that about wraps up this review….Oh! One other thing this band does that deserves mentioning is they named a song "13th Song". It's not the thirteenth song on the album, but when you look at the bands discography on iTunes, it's the 13th song on the list. It might not have anything to do with the music, but that got a chuckle outta me, not gonna lie.

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