Review Summary: 30 minutes of fun, technical pop-punk.
Damiera is a band based in Chicago, Illinois that blends together elements of progressive rock and pop-punk. Their debut full length, entitled M(US)IC
, is full to the brim with highly technical playing and catchy hooks, making for a genuinely fun listen. Imagine if Minus The Bear
decided to ditch Jake Snider, hire Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria
, then start playing a hyper technical, dare I say it proggy version of pop-punk. The musical concoction that would result from this strange marriage of influences would be Damiera.
is a nearly unrelenting listen right from the start. Opening track "Immure" bombards you with a barrage of tapped guitar riffs, high pitched vocals, and mathy drumming. This same formula is used throughout M(US)IC
, but it works nearly every time. The most enjoyable moments on the album can be found when Damiera merges its technicality with its pop-punk influence rather than having them combat each other. This can be seen in the song "Via Invested". The poppiest song on M(US)IC
, "Via Invested" tones down the instrumental complexity somewhat, allowing the vocals of David Raymond to shine through. While moments like these do pop up from time to time on this album, "Via Invested" finds a perfect balance between mathy instrumentation and poppy hooks that lasts for almost all of its 3 minutes. Damiera doesn't exactly replicate this combination for the other songs on M(US)IC
. Other tracks, like "Flora:Yield" or "M(US)IC" place technicality as a higher priority. I don't mean to imply that M(US)IC
is an all-out wank fest. This is far removed from the actual truth, which is that Damiera, underneath all of its instrumental precision, is writing pop punk songs. These songs are just covered in a layer of progressive tendencies. While this is not by any means a bad thing, it can sometimes detract from the simple, catchy melodies present here. There are certain points where things feel needlessly tech-y, such as the ending sequence of "Via Invested". The last 20 seconds of this track feel tacked on, like the guys in Damiera just thought, "Hey, we should throw in a math rock freakout at the end of our lead single."
The only other critique I can throw at M(US)IC
is that by the end of its running time some of the songs begin to sound rather similar to one another. However, Damiera counteracts this effect by keeping their album brief. This way, you don't get too overloaded with the effervescent pop hooks and tweedle-dee guitar parts that saturate this album. All in all, M(US)IC
is a solid debut album worth listening to if you enjoy pop punk, math rock, or both.