Review Summary: All round good album. A few guitar parts that sound a lot alike, and a vocal that doesn't change enough. But well written and well thought out music, that is very enjoyable.
The side project of the guitarist from Alexisonfire, Wade MacNeil. This is all seeming rather familiar with Dallas Green doing the exact same thing. But the potential is here for a good album, but can he deliver? With the memories of Alexisonfire’s music and Dallas Greens solo music to compare this to, it seems difficult to look at it as something unique. But after giving it a shot you find it to be something completely different from either of those efforts. Just what exactly are we in for?
The album starts out acapella? Interesting. The album simply starts fading in with him singing “We’re getting closer to Babylon”. It's repeated several times as the drums & an acoustic guitar start to kick in. As the song builds a second vocal comes in singing “Will you let me go to Hell, however I choose?” An interesting and unexpected start to the album. And it seems to be a more emotional concept than expected.
As the first track “A Blessing And A Curse” comes to an end it fades into the beginning of “Fire And Brimstone”. A piano drives this song right from the start accompanied by a jazzy feeling guitar during the first verse. After the first verse comes to an end, the guitar basically vanishes leaving a bare naked Wade MacNeil showing he can soften up and still sound amazing. It stays pretty much piano and vocal until the end where the guitar comes back in to pound out the last dozen chords or so. A Great ending to an amazing and honest display of talent.
We hear full on drums for the first time in “When It’s Blackout”. The verse starts with the whole band following the drums on a folky beat, that reminds me of Dustin Kensrue’s solo album. It keeps building up until it randomly pulls back to a simple piano and a guitar on the chorus. The second verse gives more of a rock feel than the first as the song continues to build into a more energetic piece until it stops for another chorus. And as it begins to build back into the energy it builds into the climax and ends...what? That’s not right...after a long pause in the music it builds back into the chorus with a full band rather than a simple piano and guitar showing extreme creativity, but after this interesting twist in the song it completely falls apart with the addition of a fade out ending.
After the disappointing ending of “When It’s Blackout” you’re pulled into the guitar driven “Hold Fast (sink or swim)” Again this song slows down in the chorus but keeps the guitar driven edge. And with great lyrics and heartfelt vocals, this song gives a great impression from start to finish. With great lyrics such as “When tonight is over, yesterdays are all we’ve got. I hope you made it count. I know I made it count”. This song is a definite highlight of the album.
“These Moments Define Us” starts off with an acoustic guitar and a vocal. Not the most technically sound vocal, but you can feel the emotion, and as the intro comes to a close it becomes the most energetic song on the album to date. With more power in his voice and more guts in the guitar, this song has a great grunge rock type feel to it. It somehow incorporates a blues style drumming, and just comes off as an all out masterpiece.
“For Her” is next and you’re drawn into the upbeat feel of the song as it’s driven by the guitar and piano again. At this point in the album, although I like the song, you begin to realize that his vocal is going to remain pretty much constant the whole album. Don’t get me wrong, he has a good voice, but it doesn’t change from song to song at all. And if you’re listening to the album as a whole the voice seems to start to drag it down at this point. The song ends on a good note though as, again, good music builds to a solid finish.
“So It Goes” Is a song that is essentially a duet between the guitar and piano. The two instruments blend perfectly. Although neither parts are overly complex or intricate piece of music, the fusion of the two form a simple and beautiful song. Wade has one of his better vocals on this track, although pretty much the same, it was more suited to the softer feel this song brings to the table.
“Timeless” is lead by a guitar part that I feel I’ve heard already from this album. With a guitar part sounding almost exactly as the guitar has sounded earlier in the album, this song becomes very boring until it gets to the chorus, which is quite catchy. But the second verse starts and falls back into that guitar pattern that he can’t seem to not play. Not one of the better songs on the album.
As the final song on the album begins you instantly realize it’s different. A much better vocal, and a piano driven beat. Drums are heard softly in the background as Wade sings his heart out. The most emotion I’ve heard from his voice all album is put into this song and he sings some of the best lyrics on the album as well. “I’ve never seen that look in his eyes before. “I should have died” he said, thinking of her.” “In Memory” proves to be the best song on the album and a great way to finish things off.
The album definitely had it’s weak moments, the key one being his voice dragging on, but as a whole the album is a good piece of music. Good music, interesting combinations, and heartfelt lyrics make for a very solid debut album.
Fire and Brimstone
Hold Fast (sink or swim)
These Moments Define Us
So It Goes
And well meshed guitar