Review Summary: If this is the Foreword whatever comes next is going to rape. Hard.
EPs are quite different from LPs. Well, maybe not quite as different as I make them out to be; pretty much, they’re just longer. What’s sad is that most people assume early on that an EP is just a sideshow of the band’s talent in a compressed format, not a true exhibition like an album would be; this is a sad notion, as an EP can prove to be quite the monolith in and of itself, especially one crafted with as much precision as Moving Mountains’ Foreword
For being 36 minutes long, this album is a beast. Moving Mountains has been tagged as being a strange concoction of post-rock aesthetics, pop-punk vocals with hardcore screams, glazed over with a nice topping of catharsis, and this EP does nothing to change that fact; what it does do, however, is refine their songwriting formula of swells and waves of fury placed next to tranquil, leisurely sections of melody down to a perfect science. Each of these 4 songs proves to be a fiend in its own right, while the EP itself manages to stay quite cohesive, and allows for an extremely interconnected, unified listen. Foreword
, the title track and first 9 and a half minutes of the EP, showcases the EP’s only one major flaw, that being its reliance on overused post-rock climaxes and orgasmic releases of beauty to create emotion; on the other hand, Moving Mountains isn’t trying to re-invent the genre on this record, and they damn sure perform their tactics well enough to let a little unoriginality pass unnoticed. From the song's reverse cymbal crashes to the tiny clicks of the drumsticks, the latter half of Foreword
is what Explosions in the Sky wish they were still able to do: make a repetitive song that remains interesting.
With One’s Heart In One’s Mouth
is just another example of excellent songwriting by these musicians. For another full 9 minutes and 48 seconds these guys are able to use the exact same formula as the last song and still be able to keep the EP from stalling or running into a proverbial wall, not only because of stellar buildups and releases of energy, but also due to sparse yet tastefully used and perfectly executed vocals. The rasping screams 3 minutes inwards are downright spine-chillingly powerful, and are such a perfect complement to the musical crescendo that it refreshes the song after its first apex, allowing it to revitalize the song’s momentum and then peter out into its soothing edge. While the vocals are spare in the EP, their timing and placement, as well as their implementation, are impeccable, and Armslength
is the perfect instance of this. At a measly 7:12 (hah, I’ve written longer speeches for my English class than that! (I usually failed those too)), the song proves to be an oddity on the album, because the vocals are actually used during a down-tempo, relaxed moment. I have to admit, the singer is not bad at all, perhaps a bit nasally for some tastes though it doesn't prove to annoy as much as, say, someone like Gerard Way does, and it pains me that this EP doesn’t really showcase his singing ability as extensively as it could have; then again, overusing the singer might take away from the poignancy of his performance. But I’m rambling and going off-topic. As we all do. Oh, look, a bird. Honestly though, the singing on this EP is the perfect supplement to the instrumentation; perhaps it is because of its minimal usage, but during every song, when the singer belts out the lyrics, even if it is only for a minute or two, the album regains whatever momentum might’ve been lost during its highly expressive yet, let’s fact it, perhaps monotonous instrumentals.
I would be remiss not to mention the last quarter of the EP, Light and Shapes
, the closer, and the culmination of Moving Mountains’ progression throughout these last 27 and a half minutes of the disc; the song showcases the strongest vocal performance on the album (sans the absolutely divine screams of With One’s Heart), or, at the very least, the most emotion and certainly the most memorable. There’s an urgent quality to this song that isn’t seen very often in this realm of music; most similar artists aim for ambient and almost languid moods when writing their material. This particular tune, however, exudes a quality that makes it almost…hurried? Well, not necessarily, but perhaps just given more impetus than its three companions, largely due to the powerful vocal performance on the first half of the track. With this last track the band does not deviate from the formula they’ve used for the first three, the song being a succession of rises and falls in the music, crowned with powerful vocal bursts at times, at other soothed with a soft voice to carry the mood.
For 36 minutes, as I said before, this album is a beast. Moving Mountains has made an EP that, basically, proves to be more efficient in its work than their previous full-length albums have been. Maybe this is a sign, hmm? I don’t know. I’m in no position to tell them what to do with their music; I’m just in a position to say how good it is afterwards. And, from here, this *** sounds good, 4 minute passages of arpeggios and all. If this truly is a foreword for Moving Mountains’ next release, then we might just be looking at the next breath of life that will revitalize the quickly staling post-rock scene.