A melodic hardcore about album about leaving Earth to create a new society somewhere in space.
I'm not joking, really. As concepts go it has to stand out as a particularly good one, not only is it a critique of today's consumer driven, large corporation society, but a story that weaves with the guitar lines. For the politics of it think Boysetsfire (left leaning).
Sadly, Snapcase have split up earlier this year but on this album they were:
Daryl Taberski - Vocals
Frank Vicario - Guitar
Jon Salemi - Guitar
Dustin Perry - Bass
Ben Lythberg - Drums
Boysetsfire aren't a bad comparison really, and neither are Thrice. Except on this album Daryl doesn't have a separate singing/shouting voice like Nathaniel Gray, instead treating you to just over 45 minutes of mostly passionately shouted vocals, a little on the high pitched range maybe, without the low menacing growl of Jeffrey (Poison the Well) but not lacking in ferocity. But also he can tone down his voice so it becomes pleasant and much closer to singing.
Musically the order of the day is fast paced heavily distorted riffs but experimentation with pianos and other instruments ensures they were one of the most forward thinking hardcore bands of the time, with a taste almost for the progressive, seeking to challenge listeners and blow them away with intensity at the same time.
So getting on to the tracks:
1) Coagulate (2:19)
This song actually had a video released with it and it was good but underplayed so I only ever saw it about twice. A short snappy intro to Snapcase this song starts with a distorted guitar riff, drums joining it and Daryl's first yelp of "No!" sets the tone. This song employs catchy hooks with fast drums and a couple of breakdowns, it's the best possible start for the album.
2) Cadence (1:16)
A piano? in a hardcore album? As part of an instrumental? It would seem so. Not particularly interesting but it does lull and soothe you quite nicely, maybe would've worked better in the middle, but oh well.
3) The beat (2:12)
A slower riff kicks things off this time and this song will be the only time you have "The year is 2071!" screamed at you in a son by anyone, I guarantee it. The song has piano parts for the chorus, and they work well, indicating the sparseness that Snapcase perceive in the world. But it's only building to the end of the song, that that takes the slow riffs and slowly but surely builds it up to a relentless guitar assault complete with crashing drums that is almost a rally call for cooperation.
4) Believe, Revolt (2:27)
Another guitar riff (Snapcase prefer riffs to chords by the way) kicks off the song. Daryl's screaming soon joins the song and the drums are given the main job of carrying the verse, with fairly intermittent strums of the guitar. The ending is very strong with calls to revolt. The song's good but nothing special
5) Ten AM (5:33)
The previous songs have been short sharp bursts of hardcore but here Snapcase give a nod towards the epic. The bass is allowed to have a more prominent part in the intro that slowly builds, and gently ebbs back and forth with Daryl lowering the intensity of his voice so it's actually quite pleasant. The chorus features the distorted guitars adding heaviness to the track, but it's the subtle mixing of the epic, calm and heavy that sets this apart from most straight up hardcore bands. Some interesting guitar effects give the song an almost spacelike effect (Hopesfall may be a good reference). The song spends too long fading on distortion, but easily
6) First Word (3:05)
Drums and harmonised guitar riffs kick it off again, and this song has the loud-louder structure that works so well for these guys and the chorus is catchy and intense at the same time. The chorus is very catchy and powerful, and the ending of "let's start the end NOW!" is great but a little more experimentation would bump it above a
7) New Kata (3:34)
Starting out quietly the guitars are close to clean, picked slowly. But they're just building up to the huuuuuge chorus. Quite how Snapcase manage to get it so powerful, lifting and venomous is beyond me, but they do. The bridge is a mix of clean harmonics and lightly distorted guitar riffs. This builds up to the chorus with the question "Does anybody know a way a body could get away?" (brilliant line imo) and ends with Daryl screaming at you to "Change things around!"
8) A Synthesis of classic forms (6:13)
A great 6 minute song that in the story marks the cosmonauts' escape from Earth and they are looking out of the portholes at Earth behind them. Daryl's voice crackles like it is being said over an intercom, and programmed effects create the feeling of slowly floating away, as the guitars and bass are slowly plucked giving you the feeling of this huge, great emptiness that you're in. Then "YEAH! Can you see them?" Is screamed ut of your stereo. The anger of living in the old world is expressed cathartically and then it's all over and you're back into the sparseness of space for a while before the pace is picked up again in a new brisge section. There's even a piano section before the end just to keep you hooked on where they could possibly take it next. This song is hugely ambitious and it works so well, it has to get
9) Aperture (2:16)
A short song that combines guitar harmonies with possibly the hardest set of riffs. It is melodic hardcore in just over 2 minutes distilled perfectly put here to remind you Snapcase don't just try epic, they can also blast right out of your stereo.
10) Exile Etiquette (5:13)
The intro is only lightly distorted and slightly in the background. Daryl's voice has a weird effect on it. The guitars in the verse are high on the fretboard and falry quiet (in the story it's about plotting the escape). The chorus explodes again, with heavy riffs, but it is still catchy like many parts of the album. A funky bass part near the end shows off the bass for the first time proper and it's a good exploration of effects that can be put on the guitar.
11) The interrogation (3:20)
Another guitar riff kicks this off and it's yet another song that brilliantly strikes the balnace between melody and powerful guitar. It also has some good vocal effects during the bridge.
12) Litmus Test (3:23)
Low rumbling bass starts this off and then the squall of guitars comes in and Daryl starts shuting over the top. The chorus is definitely one of the easiest to sing along to and it stops on a dime for a quick transition back to the verse, put here as probably one of the strongest "standard" songs it's here to make the sure album doesn't dip in quality.
13) I.D./Hindsight (4:50)
The last song and so a nice slow song that features clean guitars and slow rythmic bass. A light crashing of the cymbals keeps it going, and Daryl almost treats is a spoken song for the main part. This is the final song in the story too and is about reflection. The quiet could never last long athough and half way Daryl begs you to "Come watch the stars with me". Stressing the virtues of being with loved ones he screams "I can't make it alone! ... I can't, we can" This song is a strong closer and features most of the parts that make Snapcase so good
In conclusion this is really a great album and if you already have it you'll know exactly why. If you don't and you like the bands I mentioned then buy this album, you won't regret it.
Forward thinking mlodic hardcore
Great use of effects and new instruments
Not one weak track
Daryl's voice may not be for everyone
Get these tracks
A synthesis of classic forms
I hope this review was helpful, please rate it :)