Damiera
Quite Mouth Loud Hands


2.5
average

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
July 4th, 2008 | 35 replies | 9,758 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Some good and some bad from Equal Vision's most promising but also untested band.

Damiera - Quiet Mouth, Loud Hands

Hearing Damiera's debut release M(US)IC when it first came out in 2006, or even hearing the rerelease in 2007 would have made the album a timely addition to a genre that was concurrently developing around the US. They used dual-guitar riffing, often employing clean tones and tapping techniques, with an equally active bassline and nicely angular drumming. On top of that are emotive vocals in the spirit of Jared Leto or Anthony Green. The guitar techniques positioned Damiera as a mainstream and poppier version of bands like Tera Melos and Facing New York, while the overall songwriting and vocals ensured the band would appeal to fans of Circa Survive and Minus the Bear. This hybrid of intelligence and intelligibility (and don't forget their status as Upstate New Yorkers) made Damiera shoe-in for the Equal Vision roster. EV has always found bands that simultaneously appeal to the bubblegum tastes of Victory Records fanboys and the high-brow tastes of music critics. Bands like Coheed and Cambria, The Fall of Troy, Bear vs. Shark, Circa Survive, Hot Cross, and Modern Life Is War - well, maybe not that last one - are all marketable and immediately palatable without sacrificing any artistry. However, most if not all of those bands found ways to disappoint during their respective tenures with Equal Vision. Many released lackluster sophomore albums and all have either broken up, are on hiatus, or have lost and gained enough band members to resemble short-sold stocks more than musical acts under contract. I'm not saying Equal Vision is some kiss of death for promising bands, but it feels like bands that fit Equal Vision's unique taste have a hard time delivering. One could chalk it up to bands trying to produce Debut Album 2 and failing to write songs as compelling as those on Debut Album, or maybe bands that have carved out a niche and are trying to develop their voice further, ending up straining themselves and turn good songs sour. Either way, these idiosyncratic bands have a hard time surviving.

Damiera has been no exception. Subject to a line-up shift that involved replacing all members except the key songwriter and instrumentalist, David Raymond, Damiera has essentially abandoned their math-rock-for-the-masses sound that defined M(US)IC. Instead, on Quiet Mouth, Loud Hands, Damiera have shifted over towards the poppy end of their songwriting spectrum, feeling like kindred spirits of Circa Survive, 30 Seconds to Mars, and at their quietest moments, Codeseven (another Equal Vision band believe it or not). There is more of a focus on layering textures and creating atmosphere rather than creating interweaving guitar lines. It's as if all of the space that had previously been filled in by instrumental work is now filled in by echo-pedals and larger, stranger harmonies. This overall change is a mixed blessing. I'm sad to see their old style go, because they showed promise at composing elegantly interwoven parts, but I think the new style is well-defined and compelling in premise. However, in execution it's not perfect. Sometimes the harmonic progressions are stale and static. The title track "Quiet Mouth Loud Hands" is pretty mundane and is only livened by the guitar riffs, which are just generic, upbeat rock riffs. Other times, the chord progressions and effects have an awesome result. "Nailbiter" is an oddly upbeat track, and blends pop-punk enthusiasm in the verses with original riffing and impassioned, diverse vocals. The bouncing echo of all the instruments and vocals only adds to the sonic complexity of the song whereas the production slightly takes away from the sound on tracks like "Quiet Mouth Loud Hands." Another tracks that works really well is "Silvertongue," which has the makings of an epic, heavier track but has a lot of interesting time signature and feel changes equally interesting arpeggios and all of the album's most blazing pull-off and hammer lead parts. There is a trend among the best songs on the album. They salvage little fragments from Damiera's old sound and reinvent them in their newer, poppier sound. The worst songs are the ones that forget Raymond's facility with layering riffs and try to push him as an all around rock musician when his chord progressions can be underwhelming and feel like they need the pyrotechnics and fireworks of strong lead guitar parts to stay above water.

However, that's not the whole story. There are also just some questionable songwriting choices. "Blinding Sir Bluest" is a faux-funk, superimposed over their typical post-hardcore paradigm, resulting in a track that sounds more like Alien Ant Farm's "Smooth Criminal" rather than, say, The Mars Volta's "Goliath." The squealing guitar solo that ends the song doesn't help much either. Another song that feels like an anomaly is "Woodbox," which isn't a bad song as much as it is a goofy song in the context of the album. It sounds like a song by the Japanese band Toe, who have a math rock feel but are more pastoral, using acoustic guitars. The time signature changes that Damiera employ just feel jutting and strange, taking off some of the sheen of the guitars. However, credit has to go to the production on this track for using little electronic flourishes, which is a great contrast with the acoustic guitars, despite the fact that these electronics are also pretty goofy. As a general note, the attention to detail on this album is amazing. Every tone is varied and the album has a very diverse sound, if at times a little strange. Overall, though, Quiet Mouth, Loud Hands, is just that: good but goofy. Raymond is a compelling songwriter but maybe not the best songwriter. The fact that the band experienced turmoil and line-up shifts is telling, because for whatever osmotic influences his new band members have had on him, Raymond has fundamentally altered the way his parts come together. Instead of tautly interweaving, his parts are more obviously stacked one on top of another. This new style, while not bad, is an undeveloped foray into new territory instead of a refining of Damiera's older sound. While this is admirable in many ways, the end result is less than stunning. Maybe if Raymond's past successes could inform his future, he could combine all influences and abilities to create an aggregate sound that will blow us away. Until then we're going to have a sweet and sour tastes in our quiet mouths.



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user ratings (65)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
encmetalhead
July 4th 2008



744 Comments


i'll probably rate this a 2.5 also it's good but it's also something you've heard before

HighandDriving
July 4th 2008



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Disagree full-heartedly with rating but man oh man this is a stellar review.

You are dead on with the Equal Vision roaster phenomenon, great example is Hot Cross. I've thought about it before but you brought it into context perfectly.

But I was surprised that you didn't mention big similarities to other artists. Like how Teacher, Preacher could easily be mistaken as a Maroon 5 song, or how Quite Mouth Loud Hands sounds like he impersonating Micheal Jackson.

I was disappointed too but this is to be expected when their is a forced progression. I though Rock was the perfect lead guitars (for damiera) and that the new rhythm section lacked in comparision. The new members just don't live up but I'd much rather have a rehashed damiera then a dead one.This Message Edited On 07.05.08

Digging: Nightmares - Suspiria

PatchworkNeurology
July 4th 2008



352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I've put a lot of thought into this album.
From the leak that I had i've been wondering and listening over and over.

From this i've decided that I love this album for what it is, which is not m(us)ic. I'd rather hear this than a re-hash of an old cd.

The pop tones on this cd remind me of Maroon5 and Micheal Jackson, but i'm was a sucker for MJ when I was a kid and I love hearing it.

Sure the math rock is little to none on this cd, but considering the drastic line up change what did you expect?

Great review, I enjoyed your thoughts on the album, hopefully I gain the balls to review this in time.

KritikalMotion
July 5th 2008



2261 Comments


good review.

backwards step for damiera.

DWittisarockstar
July 5th 2008



1501 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've haven't heard this bands previous album, but I really liked this. It's catchy and easy to listen to. I guess I should check out their debut.

evilmegaman
July 6th 2008



174 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I REALLY like this album. I think I'll go with a 3.5... but I'll give it one more listen beforehand. Though I have listened to it about 8 times already.

It's a little disappointing. The disillusionist was a really good song I thought maybe they'd go with that style. but this is very experimental. the big issue is that it jumps from so many different moods that I can't really jump into the album as much as particular songs.

Dancin' Man
July 6th 2008



719 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Not good. M(usi)ic was amazing, but after having seen them twice now with the new lineup and listened to the album no more than 5 times, I can't stand it. A few good tracks, but rather than progressing, they just changed the sound to suit the new members. Also, the bassist tries to pull rockstar shlt live and sticks his tongue out while he points at you. Sorry Dave, but this time you fail.
This sounds more like Dave's old band League than Damiera as far as I'm concerned.
Anyone know what Rock is doing these days?

Kehl
July 6th 2008



21 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

It's seems like some of you are just a bitter that Damiera didn't re-write M(us)ic.

That being said, I think there are some really great tracks on this album, unfortunetly there are some really, really boring songs. Plus the album feels incredibly short.

My favorite track is Trading Grins.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 7th 2008



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Whoa. Opinions and ratings seem to be all over the board. I admit I was hoping this would be more like M(US)IC. My main problem was just that it wasn't as good, not that it doesn't sound the same. Still not a bad album though. Some good songs on here.

KritikalMotion
July 7th 2008



2261 Comments


I haven't heard the whole album but im guessing it would be a 2.5

Have album images been fixed so that actually at a good quality?

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 7th 2008



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I dunno about that one. Ask Jom.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2008



16081 Comments


It all depends on what image you upload to the site just like it always has been.

Kehl
July 7th 2008



21 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I will admit one thing. Without the vocals, or any different vocals I would not be listening to this album. Besides "Woodbox" there is no merit in the rythm section.

Don't get me wrong, they're not horrible.

guitarplaya91
July 7th 2008



485 Comments


my friend LOVES this guys, i have to pick this up.

natey
July 8th 2008



4170 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I agree with the review basically.

HighandDriving
July 9th 2008



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Anyone know what Rock is doing these days?


Wiki says he is exploring the world of jazz, lol.


Electric City
Staff Reviewer
July 13th 2008



15727 Comments


played with these guys. ehhh

Digging: A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Sea When Absent

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 13th 2008



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

What's your band name?

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
July 13th 2008



15727 Comments


tranquil core. it's christian pop punk, but im best friends with all of them and i have a good time with it.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 13th 2008



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It's pretty funny that you immediately had to figure out a caveat for you band. Nothin wrong with Christian pop punk dude. I love Further Seems Forever.



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