Review Summary: A great follow-up album from a band full of potential.
Following the release of their first record, ‘A Partial Dialogue Between Ghost and Priest’, A Textbook Tragedy enlisted a second vocalist to help out. As it turned out, this was a very good decision to make.
The first thing you notice when going into the album is the force behind the new vocals. Despite having a very limited range, Chris Bahris has an outstanding voice which compliments the already established sound of the band. His deep, angry voice has the great quality of making you think he genuinely may hurt you. This is displayed on the opener ‘If You Want Blood’ brilliantly, with surprisingly catchy lyrics. The high vocals are taken by the old singer/guitarist, Kai Turmann, whose screechy style of singing may not appeal to all, but suits the eclectic style of music well. The first single, ‘Dude, I’m On Alesse’ is by far one of the most catchy tracks on the album, following the typical pattern of the band, which is having no real pattern whatsoever; it's an exciting mix of outstanding drumming and guitar work, again showcasing the technical talent that the guitarists possess for such young musicians.
The album is broken up by the instrumental '‘The Gospel According To Textbook Tragedy’, which is reminiscent of ‘Appearances/Accuracies’ from their previous album. The assault then continues onto the brilliant ‘Who Invited Zentner?’ and then on to the highlight of the album, ‘Godspeed Centipede’. This is one of few tracks to feature a fantastic clean-vocal section. The climax at the end of the song, featuring three different vocal parts all sung in differing styles creates the most memorable part of the album. The middle of the title-track ‘Intimidator’ is also sung incredibly well, showing that the album isn’t all noise. However, it’s the scarceness of these moments that makes the impact of them all the more impressive.
Of course, the album isn’t without its faults – as with ‘A Partial Dialogue’, poor production value heavily impacts the quality of the music. The potential power that is so obvious with the talent of the musicians is held back, leaving you wanting to find better speakers to play it on. This is apparent particularly with the drums; fantastic playing is tinged with the disappointment of dull bass drums and occasionally crappy symbols. Furthermore, the overall quality of the songs declines as the album continues, only really picking up with the closer ‘Start The Reactor’. All the songs follow a very similar pattern and sound, and it may take a few listens to be able to tell when one track has finished and another has begun.
If you want to give this band a try, this is the place to start. It is far more accessible than ‘A Partial Dialogue’, without compromising on the energy, innovation, and overall fun of the music. The new vocalist adds so much to the band that the old one couldn’t. With the massive improvement in production on ‘Rain, City, State of Mind’, this still very young band will hopefully continue to release very competent records for at least a few more years.
If You Want Blood
Dude, I’m on Alesse
Start The Reactor