Review Summary: I find an old band that I heard a demo of years back, and realize that potential isn't always just a word.2 of 2 thought this review was well writtenCalico System
Mark Owens - Vocals
Shawn Keith - Guitar
Rick Giordano - Guitar
Nick Schaflein - Bass
Erik Ramsier - Drums
Original Release Date: November 8, 2005
Recorded At: Big Blue Meenie Studios
Label as produced: Eulogy Recordings
They Really Live
In a period of my life that was probably my most ambitious time of finding new and endearing music for my ears to use as drugs Calico System was a band that I found. If anyone could remember before this sharing program called Napster was hitting it off big, there was this site mp3.com where you could find new music in a line that’s almost like pure volume today. It seems so long ago but I was this freshmen in high school who wanted to find new music on a constant basis. I remember clicked a song from Calico System called “Love Will Kill All” and falling in love with it at the same time I fell in love with Alexisonfire “.45 Caliber Love Letter”. At the time I wasn’t even into the screaming thing but the guitar parts and singing in these songs intrigued me. Years pass and bands pass right? The music industry is always growing and dying with bands coming in and out like a seesaw going up and down. My little band that wasn’t even signed years back when I was in 9th grade seems to be in a really good spot on there sophomore record, signed to Eulogy records, and a grown fan base from the 3 digits to 6 digits. After not hearing about them for so long I was excited to sample some of there mp3’s on Myspace. I listened to “They Live”, “Running With Scissors”, “Eva Braun”, and “Love Will Kill All”. I was immediately impressed by the evolution of this band and the production of the new songs. “Love Will Kill All” seemed like the same song with different hooks and anchors but overall a better recorded version that isn’t on this sophomore album but the other songs I had never heard of. I held all the songs high after listening to them and wanted to buy the album next…
The self titled song kicks off the album and feels like a generic metal core song but will get your blood moving. It isn’t really anything special through the first except some throaty tough man vocal screams and some melodic singing in the chorus. The 2nd verse is when I feel like this song shows something where the guitar goes off on a small solo lead which is a nice touch. Back to the tough man vocals though which could easily pass for any Remembering Never, Bury Your Dead, Atreyu… etc. Of course every song of this stature is going to have a break down and I really enjoyed this one for the choice of lyrics. THEY LIVE. THEY SUFFER. THEY CHOOSE THERE DESTINY. Those breakdown lyrics actually decipher the song in it’s short and sweet nature.
“Running with Scissors” starts off with a nice guitar introduction and even more then ever this song sounds like a carbon copy of a band such as Atreyu or From Autumn to Ashes. The melodic vocals are a nice touch with a different sound then the first song and shows some range. The whole song feels like a winding up and down of octave chords with some hooks, here and there. The building up in this song throughout is superb and will make you get out of your chair and move around. The breakdowns aren’t anything spectacular but they do add character to the songs because they aren’t exactly generic either as well. “Venomous Lipstick” feels like a pop-punk song when it starts up. The song is at a punky fast tempo and is sung more then screamed through which is the inverse of the previous two songs. I was impressed by a song like this because it felt like a pop-punk song without forced screaming, but screams in appropriate places, such as at the end of verses or interludes. It was a pleasant change.
“Ballad of Mr. Gachot” feels like a stand out track on this album. The song is everything anyone can ask for in this genre of music. The song starts off with crunching palm mutes and speeds off into a winding guitar riff throughout the chorus. The song doesn’t feel like it’s structured in a good way but a race to a finish line, that starts off slow and speeds up. I’m also a sucker for the melodic vocals in this song since they highly remind me of Hopesfall - The Satellite Years. The solo at the end of this song blows my mind every time I hear it in this song and just puts the icing on the cake. It isn’t one of those metal core solo’s that sounds like it’s thrown in there because they wanted to have a solo, but it actually collaborates with the song very well. “The Apparition” will continue the head banging through this album and also continues the scream;sing ratio that’s almost always scream over sing. So far so good, in terms of songs blending in with each other because just like the previous songs even if the structure is almost always the same, there’s enough distinction to know actual songs.
“In Our Way” brings back out the pop-punk vibe of this band and once again is a pleasant surprise. It’s almost as soon as you want to say that this band has done everything that’s been done before, you can’t help to know that they do both sides of music in a catchy and fun to listen to way.
The singing in this song stands out better to me then “Venomous Lipstick” and by now you should figure out that the guitar work on this album is outstanding and creative but…
Leave it to “This is Goodbye” if you didn’t believe so already with it’s sexual tremolo picked introduction into a crunchy, open, drop tuning break. The choruses are brought to the listener to almost instantly sing along too. They seem like they were made to be sung by everyone. If you don’t get at least 5/10 choruses stuck in your head after listening to this album then I feel like I failed you in this review. I enjoyed the progression during the breakdown of this song into a guitar solo as well, which once again didn’t feel like it was made for the sake of just being a solo.
“A Heap of Broken Images” once again reassures the fact that this band is fueled by some outstanding guitar work. By this song I already want to hear this band live by the fact that I want to know if this band is for real, in its sense of musicianship and vocals. The album by now is already worth the full price of admission and keeps me head banging throughout this song. “Ava Braun” was one of the reasons why I bought this album. It’s the song that I would recommend to someone who never heard any music by this band. It puts all of the hardcore/metal core elements within in this one song where it truly shines.
It’s almost definite (95%) that if you are Killswitch Engage fan you will enjoy this album since this song reminds me of them in there early days the most. The singing once again sounds different from the other songs which keeps the band really fresh in my opinion. Unlike From Autumn to Ashes this guy doesn’t sound like a bulimic geek crying constantly.
“Transforming the Amber”, was a shocker because it probably started off with the only clean part in this album that I can remember of. It only lasts for about 6 seconds so don’t think they are going totally soft because that mesa boogie distortion gets cranked up right after. I feel like this song doesn’t live up to the rest of the album and upsets me that this is the note it leaves me down upon because I know this band has already won my ears over. The song may be the last song and because you heard the rest of the album isn’t as hard hitting but overall it feels like the album just ends suddenly.
In Our Way
When anticipating this album I was looking for it to be a total rip off of Atreyu but it wasn’t anything like that. This is the band that Atreyu probably dreams about being. The guitar riffs are fierce, creative, and stays true to the genre. I’d even go out on a limb saying that this band is just as good as Killswitch Engage was back in the day. The band takes elements from hardcore such as Bury Your Dead, Remembering Never, and With Honor, but also has that other side which is like Silverstein, Alexisonfire, and From Autumn to Ashes.
It feels like everything in this genre has been all said and done before and maybe it isn’t the most freshest breathe of air but it definitely executes a lot better then a lot of people (including me) would of thought. The screaming vocals feel like every other screaming vocals in this genre but the singing was something different with its variety. The new songs I heard were different from “Love Will Kill All” that I heard years back but evolution is a beautiful thing. I’ll definitely try and pick up there first album now. It was overall a fun listen to jump around too, and that’s what counts to me at least…
+ Guitar Work
+ Song Variety
- Nothing new really brought to the table