Review Summary: In the emotion we can hide.
Roadside Monument had a bit of bad luck in their short time as a band. They were signed by Tooth and Nail at a time when the record label was attempting to “secularize.” Of course not long after being signed by the label T&N decided artistic credibility wasn’t worth sacrificing the money made from Christian Bookstores. Now Roadside Monument had the unfortunate distinction of being labeled a Christian band in the secular post hardcore scene. Their labelmates Frodus were able to leave T&N before the Christian tag caught on, RM had no such luck. Roadside Monument were essentially ostracized by the only scene that would accept their aggressive and adventurous music for their ties to T&N, and they weren’t getting into any Christian bookstores with song titles like “Sperm Ridden Burden” (iTunes censors ‘Sperm’ believe it or not). Trapped in music scene limbo: Maybe that’s why hardly anyone remembers such a seminal emo release like Eight Hours Away From Being a Man
Things are kicked off with “Sperm Ridden Burden” a song swirling with pain and desperation. The sharp, fuzzy, and heavily distorted guitar overtop a rumbling bass and quick drumming are what you can expect from every ‘loud’ section on Eight Hours
. There is one thing “Sperm” has that only one other song on this CD features; Jonathon Ford’s screamed vocals. I’ll try not to harp on this too much, but Doug Lorig’s and Ford’s nasal whine, although competent and fitting, are nothing compared to Ford’s screams. Everything screamed vocals can ever hope to protray emotionally is damn near perfected on “Sperm Ridden Burden” (check out this live performance for proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlqVtfbuG9s).
Although I spent a paragraph discussing the vocals there is really no need, much like Maximillian Colby the vocals (or lyrics) don’t really matter. It’s all about da music, man. Roadside Monument sticks to a rather simple formula musically, every song-besides “Sperm” and “My Hands Are the Thermometers”-either starts soft or loud then switches to the other extreme, and there will probably be another switch or two. Roadside Monument certainly weren’t the only band in the 90s doing the soft/loud thing but not many did it so well, or with nearly as much gusto. “Iowa Backroads” and “Kansas City” for example both start soft and pretty, throwing in a moment or two that hints at turmoil ahead. Then they just up and shatter the song with frightening noise and before long the songs subtly change from being dark into being uplifting. It’s a technique used liberally on Eight Hours
but each time done well. “Tired of Living With People Who Are Tired of Living” works in the opposite direction throwing you right in the thick of a driving post hardcore song before the band pulls the rug out from underneath you and spends the last two minutes of the song teasing you with languid guitar picking.
Many bands used the soft/loud thingy (it was the breakdown of the 90s) but most were never able make it anything more than a songwriting gimmick. Roadside Monument however kept things fresh by making the moments the quiet and the depressed quickly became the heavy and the pissed miraculous. “Apartments Over the Peninsula” uses a violin to create a downright peaceful and lovely song, RM of course lull you into a false sense of security before smashing over the head with a wall of distortion.
There happens to be a hundred moments on Eight Hours
I’ve yet to mention (that stunning climax in “Crop Circles”, Matt Johnson’s drumming in “My Hands”, everything in “District Compression”, etc.) but I’m already beginning to ramble on incoherently. Just know Eight Hours Away From Being a Man
is a soft/loud masturbation session in the best way possible. About halfway through Roadside Monument quit trying to make songs and just start throwing in the best musical transformations they can muster up.