Review Summary: Distinctive and complex both musically and vocally, Saosin tick all the boxes on this debut EP which is very much a recommended listen.
When making a debut EP there should be a few objectives that a band always keeps in mind. Firstly, the release must get noticed, whether it be due to its content, via promotion & publicity, or both. Secondly, the music itself must be of a relatively high quality. No-one is expecting a masterpiece by any musician releasing their first batch of songs, but if the tracks are not all that good, then most will not care. Finally, an EP should show potential for whatever is to come for the future of a band. If they are the criteria for a successful EP, then Saosin's 'Translating The Name' is indeed a success.
At the time of this release, Saosin was very much something different than the norm. A'la Thursday, the band seemed to take post-hardcore music and add intricacies and variations to it in order to result in something very much different. This can all be seen on the opener and 1st single from this EP, the extremely impressive 'Seven Years'.
From almost the very first moment it is quite apparent that lead vocalist Anthony Green has an especially distinctive voice which is bound to have both it's fans and detractors. Described as sounding both "dream-like" and "angelic", it is at first jarring but should be given a chance to settle in before judgment is passed. That voice dominates the first 30 seconds of the opener as it moves along smoothly before transforming into a more post-hardcore effort as screaming vocals enter the fray.
The opening track is also the most telling from a musical standpoint with a very effective dual guitar attack which sees a higher-pitched siren-like wail duel with a more metal-like machine-gun riff. Speaking of "metal-like", the drumming contained within this song is loud, fast and impressive at exactly the correct moments. All of which makes for one hell of a highlight, with the only concern being the final 30 seconds that seems to drag on despite the length of the song only being a touch over 3 minutes.
I almost feel sorry for the title track for having to follow in the footsteps of the opener as it seems rather standard in comparison to it, especially when it comes to the complexity of the musicianship. It is a pretty good song in isolation though and seems to see Saosin concentrate on putting together a relatively catchy chorus more than anything else. The results are mixed but there is clearly enough there for the band to work on in the near future.
Released as the 2nd and final single from this EP most likely due to Green's borderline accessible vocals, '3rd Measurement In C' is probably the weakest track here for mine. It is not in any way awful, but it is difficult not to think that the band are not holding back just a little too much on this song which seems incomplete at just 2:40 in duration. The same to a lesser extent could be said about the EP's closer, the awkwardly titled 'The Perched on their Stilts, Pointing and Daring me to Break Custom'. However, this latter piece at least gets an impressive instrumental breakdown about two-thirds of the way through it.
Sandwiched in between those 2 tracks is 'Lost Symphonies' which returns to the complex formulas of the opener and is the heaviest most metal-like track on this EP. A blistering rapid-fire drumbeat greets you, while the guitar-work is exemplary and almost dream-like here as it draws you in involvingly. This is one of those songs that you can listen to five separate times and concentrate on five different things, definitely making this a grower.
A stunning debut, this EP ticks most of the boxes for what is expected of a band just starting up in this particular genre. Impressive and original from both a musical and vocal standpoint, Saosin are best when verging on their own brand of metalcore. However, they do show sufficient hints of variation that suggest they will be able to counter the main weakness of this EP; The short running times of both individual songs and the album as a whole (15 minutes). Distinctive and complex, this is very much a recommended listen.
Recommended Tracks: Seven Years, Lost Symphonies & Translating The Name.