Review Summary: Not quite a post-hardcore tour de force, but a solid debut for a band that will turn a few heads in the near future.
The Jonbenet – The Plot Thickens
At the time of recording, The Jonbenet were:
Michael Murland – Vocals
Dann Miller – Guitars, Backup Vocals
Chris Goodwin – Bass
J. Andrew Ireland – Drums, Backup Vocals
The Jonbenet are a Post-Hardcore act hailing from Houston, Texas, signed to the punk/hardcore/metal label Pluto Records. They are named after the brutal, unsolved murder of JonBenet Ramsey, and keep up with that title with a mind-blowing blend of great instrumental work and occasionally vicious lyrics.
The first three tracks of this album were newly recorded for the EP, whereas the last five are cleaned up versions of songs from previous works. The improved musicianship on those first few tracks is noticeable, but the latter tracks don’t take away from this album’s excellence.
The listener is immediately thrown into the heaviest this band has to offer with Eating Lightning, Pt 1. The song begins with a lightning fast drum roll (how about that), and we are introduced to Michael Murland’s alarmingly harsh vocals. Harsh in regard to the sound; I’ll delve into the lyrics in a short while. The song continues on its torrid pace until the very end, where it becomes quite melodic. This section is very enjoyable, and proves to be very essential to the album in the long run. The singing isn’t anything impressive, but it sounds nice. The next two tracks are also excellent. Dramarama contains a very good chorus, and manages to sound very different from the first track. Behold, the White *****, is the best track on the album. After a nice guitar intro, sans vocals or anything else, a simple yet powerful guitar riff backs more crushing vocals. One won’t be able to understand the lyrics in the chorus, due to the odd, semi-punk vocals the singer chooses. I really don’t know how to classify them, but it sounds unique. The song calms down quite a bit after two choruses, and finishes with Murland slowly screaming the title of the track.
Instrumentally, once again, this band is very good. Most of the drumming is nothing to write home about, but the drummer comes up with some very smooth fills, and never really throws something out there that feels out of place. The guitar is pretty original, although I dislike how the intros to Stolen Home and Eleventh Century Folklore sound almost exactly the same. It might just be my poor ear, but the bass seems inaudible most of the time. The production isn’t perfect either, but similar to TFOT’s self-titled debut, it adds to the musical experience. Lyrically, this band is not bad at all. Some songs are about social issues, and others can get somewhat nasty. Dramarama is simply about drama, and how it can infect people like cancer and change them completely. Trophy Wives is one of the more violent tracks, pertaining to the abuse of a girlfriend, wife, etc. Although some of these sections can be disturbing, they are missed when listening to the album without the lyrics, as the vocal style of the band, and genre in general, is usually incoherent. Behold, the White ***** contains the strongest message given out by the band in the album. The song speaks down upon the unfair censoring of Jesus on crosses everywhere around the world. I don’t think the band is religious in any way but it’s a strong point, argued in sections such as this:
This was yet another favorite of His,
Concious effort was put into everything that He didn't do
And everything else was a failed plan.
Why didn't this work!?
Why didn't this work?!
If only gratitude could get you somewhere.
If only gratitude could get you somewhere!
Censor His bleeding hands, broken teeth and blood-red hair.
This is His love to them all.
Yet another day blessed with His presence!
Continue to beat Him, this is His love!
They aren’t the most explicit details in the world, but nonetheless well written.
This album is an excellent debut, and it is too bad the band doesn’t get as much attention as they deserve.
Excellent musicianship and vocals
The album is short, but fluctuating track times, like sentences in a novel, make it a good listen
The band is young and still has a lot of time to improve
Melodic sections in the first three songs are lacking in the last five, but this may be because the last five are older songs
For fans of: Converge, The Number Twelve Looks Like You, The Fall of Troy
Score: 4/5. I really don’t see much to complain about, but I’d be straight up lying if I told you this was anything near being a classic.