Review Summary: As Tall As Lions' EP shows the band slowly progressing from the warm, sweet melodies of their earlier work, while still maintainting what made those releases so charming.
As Tall As Lion’s third release, Into the Flood is different from the critically-acclaimed As Tall As Lions released a year earlier. The warm, sugar-coated melodies have been pushed to the side for slightly darker chords, and strings have a prominent place on the five-song EP. That’s not to say, all of the charming aspects of the self-titled album are gone but, the band clearly decided to experiment a little bit more on Into the Flood.
“505”, the opening track, immediately indicates the band’s attempt to broaden their sound. Scratchy, effect-laden vocals echo over slow acoustic guitars and singer, Dan Nigro croons about falling in love with a girl. There is almost no tempo until about halfway through the short, two-minute opener. Strings and drums kick in and the song fades out and the album is underway. The title track "Into the Flood"opens with more strings. Again, Nigro’s vocals are very soft and soothing as he serenades over a somber string section. Unexpectedly the rest of the band kicks in and seem to race through a powerful, exhilarating chord progression. The song slows back down during the verses and speeds up again during the chorus. After a slow, ambient bridge, where all of the instruments come to a halt, the song builds back up but at a much slower pace. The strings return and piano kicks in for the second half of the song.
Followed by “Into the Flood” is the slower, dreamy “We’re the Ones That Keep You Warm At Night”. A sliding bass riff repeats over and over and drummer Cliff Sarcona keeps the song moving. The chorus fittingly has an astral sound as Nigro sings “I’m dreaming my life away”. The piano playing takes center-stage above all of the instruments and it flows right into “Breakers”, though it is much darker and slightly eerie. There are more strings and the drums are much faster than in previous songs. They are tight and give off a feeling as if the song might explode at any second. On queue, as the feeling builds, it does burst into a sharp minor-chord-filled chorus. Nigro sings, “The end is going to come.” It’s the first song on the album that shows any real aggression and the second half of the song blasts into a distorted, bombastic guitar duel. The upbeat, chaotic drum-playing of Sarcona is equally as noteworthy on this song as the excellent guitar work of Nigro and Sean Fitzgerald.
The EP ends with the jazzy “Blacked Out”. Like much of the previous tracks it is slower and guitars are more present than some of the other songs. It recalls their earlier work and could have very easily fit in with their self-titled album. The song and EP finish with Nigro singing but the vocals are quieted and the rest of the band fades out on a repeating chord progression.
Into the Flood is not an entirely different piece of work from the band’s beloved early releases, Lafcadio and As Tall As Lions, but it sounds like a band slowly moving away from some of the poppy, sweet, pretty melodies they became known for. The guitars are present but less-notable and they are sometimes overshadowed by the strings and keys on the album. Dan Nigro’s slightly high-pitched voice has gotten stronger and along with the drumming of Cliff Sarcona, shine on the EP. Overall, Into the Flood is a solid release worthwhile listening to, that hints at further progression from a band packed with potential.