Review Summary: While this certainly isn’t the most unique record, who’s complaining? Pianos Become the Teeth have created a fantastic album in Old Pride with enough ear-splitting, heart-wrenching moments to keep you coming back for more.
The comparisons are inevitable. A post-rock influenced screamo band with floor-rattling screams... they must be channeling some City of Caterpillar or Envy in there, right? Well, yes and no. Pianos Become the Teeth, a local band (for me) out of Baltimore, Maryland, have created a defining record in Old Pride
, but it’s hard to say whether or not they exert enough effort to truly separate and define themselves from their influences. The quintet have found a nice, cozy spot among the complex instrumentation, frenzied screams, and overall feverish nature on Old Pride
. While it would be splendid to ramble on about all the things that make Old Pride
spectacular, it’s very difficult due to the glaring faults (as small as they may be when compared to the bigger, brighter, not to mention more intense, picture). This is most definitely because Pianos Become the Teeth are capable of a better quality record, and while Old Pride
is an undeniably excellent showing, it’s flaws become all the more obvious because of the great potential hiding here.
There’s certainly no lack of intensity, as the aggressive atmosphere is on full display in the short burst emanating so furiously from Kyle Durfey’s vocal chords. His voice becomes almost a little too overbearing at times, making it hard to appreciate the superb guitar work from the guys in the background. Elegant riffs plague Old Pride
from front to back, and Pianos definitely would have benefitted from a bit more showy display of this. The build-ups are particularly poignant, and it’s during a few of these defining moments that it’s possible to hear Pianos Become the Teeth truly mesh and mingle like nowhere else on the album. Take the epic build-up in “Pensive”, for instance, with the frantic, “I'm ready to let my hair down, I'm ready to move to the woods until the floor boards get raspy, I'm ready, I'm ready.”
Pianos must not have been self-aware enough to realize this obvious forte, for it seems like they sacrifice many of these stirring segments for run of the mill post-hardcore or screamo after the listener is fully aware that they are capable of so much more. This is particularly true between highlights “Filial” and “Pensive,” as a few of the shorter tracks don’t feel especially vital.
The lyrics are nothing to swoon over, despite a diamond in the rough, “Cripples Can’t Shiver,” a harrowing story of a disease-ridden family member. Blunt and intense, the song leaves a very lasting impression, arguably more so than anything else on Old Pride
. Despite the lack of exceptional lyrics, Pianos Become the Teeth manage to convey an urgent and frantic sense of raw intensity and catharsis that’s oh-so-necessary in the genre. Alas, this is only to be undermined (marginally) by the glossy production. Everything is just a bit too manufactured and the passion of the music is sometimes lost due to this. Old Pride
ends on a dull note, with the post-rock of “Young Fire.” A bit too lengthy, it fails to pinpoint an objective and instead strays aimlessly and diminishes the building tempo throughout the record.
And despite these sometimes glaring faults, Old Pride
is definitely a contender in the screamo category of 2009. While Pianos fail to really detach themselves from their illustrious predecessors by means of talent or ingenuity, the emotion invested in Old Pride
is enough to call this truly unique. And while it’s easy to say, “This could have been better,” it’s much harder to deem this unworthy. While this certainly isn’t the most unique record, who’s complaining? Pianos Become the Teeth have created a fantastic album with enough ear-splitting, heart-wrenching moments to keep you coming back for more. Keep your ears peeled for cathartic screams in the distance, because if Old Pride
is any sign, Pianos Become the Teeth have great work ahead of them.