The Appleseed Cast
Sagarmatha


4.0
excellent

Review

by Matt Wolfe EMERITUS
February 14th, 2009 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: While the Appleseed Cast may have completed their transformation from emo darlings to instrumental upcomers with dazzling results, their relentless pursuit of post rock may have caused them to neglect the more important aspects of their sound.

At last! The transfer from emo diary darlings to post rock prudes is complete! The Appleseed Cast have come a long way since their debut album 'The End of Ring Wars' way back in '98, but it has been a development which has followed a very much linear and concentrated path. It was first noticed on 2003's 'Low Level Owl' where, if watched closely, the band could be seen stretching to reach an itch they couldn't quite yet scratch, an itch we now know as the post rock prickle. It it this itch which has followed them right up to their latest release Sagarmatha. Suffice to say, Sagarmatha has that itch well and truly scratched out.

For those not up to scratch with their general knowledge, Sagarmatha is the Nepalese name for Mount Everest, and it seems an appropriate title for a band who have tried to tackle this 'higher sound', and have seemingly ascended as high as they can. A lack of vocals is a noticeable absence from most of the songs (with many reaching the six minute mark), instead opting for the post rock tendencies of subtle, repeated guitar riffs, intricate, organized drumming and swathes of keyboards, xylophones, ambience et al. For this instrumental addict, it is a welcoming transformation. I liked the Appleseed Cast before, but now I might be beginning to love them. They have been subtly mastering the tricks of the trade and are now delivering them to us with flair and finesse. Some of the tracks show the band at the top of their instrumental game; 'Raise the Sails' with its brilliantly executed explosive ending, 'An Army of Fireflies' gritty, aggressive instrumentation showing a nastier alternative drive, and the intense, sinister build of 'The Road West' allows the band to deliver the audience a meticulously controlled, slow cathartic reaction.

It's not all smiles though. The chief negative which I have to assign this album is it's lack of real punch. Few of the songs are memorable and, with the heart being well and truly wiped off the sleeve, it's much harder to get all too emotionally involved with the songs. 'Like a Locust' tries to utilize breakbeats, computer keyboards and quiet static to go for the head-nodding, mechanically pretty affect but just comes across stale and unstimulating. On the other end, 'A Bright Light' seems a great, sincere track to begin with until you realize it's just built on one unspectacular riff and the rest of the song just ambles around it like a lost child. It's not a bad track by any means, but it doesn't come close to stacking up against post rock's high achievers who are able to successfully evoke feeling without having to rely on vocals. This lack of emotive power naturally spurs questions about the record's staying power. That I had originally rated this as a 4.5 is evidence that the opening punch was not quite as devesatating as the initial impact suggested. And sure, that can happen with repeated listens, but it shouldn't happen this fast.

What it comes down to is that sacrifices of sound have been made, when really they didn't have to be. The songs are immersive now, but not affecting, like they used to be. Whether this is due to the down-toned, sporadic vocals or to the cleaner, less raw instrumentation I'm not entirely sure. But something essential to the band is missing. They've pretty much reached the pinnacle of what they've been trying to achieve all this time that, right now, all that's needed to nail the flag into the peak is the removal of all vocals. But who wants that? Don't get me wrong, this is an excellent album, brimming with confident, compelling post rock swagger and songwriting which is both powerful and uplifting while still remaining gentle, warm and palliative. But here's hoping they can descend from their pedestal just a little for their next effort, drop below the clouds, so we can see the heart and soul of The Appleseed Cast again while still being able to appreciate how far they've come.



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user ratings (153)
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3.6
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other reviews of this album
adrnsglr (4)
Though Sagarmatha represents a confident change of pace for Lawrence, Kansas's gentlemen in The Appl...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Minus The Flair
Emeritus
February 14th 2009


862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

http://www.absolutepunk.net/artists/showlink.php?do=showdetails&l=2385

Stream is here.

ClearTheLane
February 14th 2009


990 Comments


Damn I loved the Low Level Owls. Hard to believe this is as good..

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 14th 2009


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

stupid bands streaming their albums before the release date forcing me to write my reviews early ugh

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

Zippermouth
February 14th 2009


1305 Comments


Your summary doesn't indicate a 4 review.

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
February 14th 2009


862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That could be because I'm subconsciously leaning on a 3.5, but I thought the 'dazzling results' and 'may have' would do the job for a 4. I won't change the summary because it reflects how I feel, but I might change the rating at a later date. At the moment it's still a 4.

joshuatree
Emeritus
February 14th 2009


3742 Comments


great review man, album's excellent too

kingsoby1
Emeritus
February 14th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

havent checked this out yet, but definitely will. some of my reviews end up a bit too much hyped, and i drop the rating within a week or two... so give it a few days.

SnackaryBinx
February 14th 2009


2309 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fuck i wanted to right something for this, but this is a good review.

RandyfromPennywise
March 16th 2009


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is pretty chilled. I'm listening to this while I study, seems like perfect music for this purpose. Nice mix of mellow and more rock moments. Thanks for introducing me to this.

gaslightanthem
March 16th 2009


5209 Comments


i wanted to right something for this


lol, write?

ebay
July 24th 2009


501 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i like this album, but it's just so much different than their previous stuff. i'm sure it will grow on me tho.

ThisWillDestroyU
November 23rd 2009


2 Comments


Good review! I have always loved TASC.

minty901
February 16th 2012


2070 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hmmm. this is majorly disappointing after the awesome one-two hit of two conversations and peregrine. maybe i need to let it settle a bit, but for as big a fan i am of post-rock, i really wish they went back to their peregrine sound.

anyway, after listening to no devolucion, all other attempts at ethereal vocals just sound like shit, including this album.

edit: lol this grew on me big time. the instrumentation has a real summery feel to it. great music for driving on a sunny day

McP3000
October 24th 2012


3941 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

didnt hold up after repeated listens. still good but there's nothing for me to get /excited/ about

minty901
October 24th 2012


2070 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah i can see that. i love the first half but tend to turn over after that.

wacknizzle
October 24th 2012


13482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is perfect for fall weather. Blazing, then going for walks down the montour trail jamming this is amazing.

Digging: This Gift Is A Curse - I, Gvilt Bearer

minty901
January 3rd 2013


2070 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

new song here: https://soundcloud.com/#mail-24/the-appleseed-cast-north-star

and album is going to be out on april 9th

minty901
April 4th 2013


2070 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

from itunes previews it sounds like the new one is gonna be a bit of a throwback to their more sweet, emo days in terms of vocals and melodies. the singing has a naivety to it that we haven't really heard since two conversations. musically it sounds really close to middle states, which is a good thing. some of the drumming and guitar work sounds a little scrappy and frenetic though. at least thats the impression i got from great lake derelict and that seems to hold over to some of the previews. drums sound very far forward in the mix and i'm not too sure about the production. 30 degrees 3AM sounds like it could be a really nice ballad.

minty901
April 15th 2013


2070 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

new one has leaked, and is on youtube.

demigod!
April 15th 2013


44726 Comments


i have this bands debut downloaded

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End



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