Review Summary: Stuck in the middle
Theatria are a post-hardcore band hailing from Toronto playing a pop rock focused take of the aesthetic. There isn’t much hiding on this record, Theatria play a straight up, moderately paced style. On this record the band allows the vocals and hooks do most of the talking. Unfortunately as much as Theatria have to say in words they have little to convey.
With vocals placed at the focal point of the record on most occasions it is crucial to have fantastic delivery as well as competent backing. Vocals soar into high registers and shriek with venomous screams however impressive the vocals may sound however they don’t serve well in the context of a record. The delivery is rather lifeless, never conveying much of a sense of urgency in the darkest of moments, nor splendor in the poppiest of times. Instrumentally the band painfully struggles in an opposing context to the vocalist. While the notes often match up with the hills and slopes of the instrumental structure they fail to convey any sort of reason for the story at hand.
Velocity is the direction at which speed moves. For in music it is not so much the speed that matters: whether a band is unleashing an onslaught of double base pedal hits and blast beats or soothing the nerves with some refined jazz arrangement; both have their merits. What is really important whether you’re playing jazz, death metal or in this instance post-hardcore is the musical progression and ultimately the designated target the piece of music sets out to reach.
The lack of identity is what plagues a lot of bands out there now a days and leaves the market saturated with blandness. The identity or ‘sound’ a band possesses acts as their overall persona as musicians. Without the personal input from the band it is hard to care for the music when it feels like they themselves are indifferent to the story they are telling.
In the happiest of times you have hooks. The pop aesthetic reveres the sacred hook as its infectious lifeline to your headphones but the thin guitar work found here does not stack up to meeting the grand size hooks one has come to expect from the genre. A little faster paced and an overall inflection whether up or down sums up what you can expect to hear in terms of hooks.
Hooks aren’t the only trick Theatria use to draw you in however. Build ups are also administered to peak interest on this album. A few tracks such as ‘Reason’ and of course the crowd favourite ‘The Weakest Man In The Room’ are the most obvious examples of build ups. Broken guitar lines sweep across the soundscape quietly in the background over a moderately paced riff playing about as the lines grow closer to the front of the mix from the back until they burst out onto the seams of the playground and make their grand debut as the main riff transitioning from one to the other. The crescendos come across as cheesy often times than anything else because of their blunt nature, dull riffs repeat over and over awaiting to be swept under the rug while the lines build. Cheesiness isn’t the biggest problem however: that title goes to the issue of pacing.
Pacing on this album is possibly my biggest qualm with this release. Song structure generally includes basic riffs that repeat over (on many occasions overstaying their welcome) then drop off into more emo inspired territory with slow paced, twinkly flutters of the chords as the jumpy more soft rock jamboree continues alongside wearing out. Transitioning once more, jumpy pop rock emerges. The pop rock sections are infused with short lived, upbeat anticipation, granted however the forceful nature as well as thin tone can be about as uninviting as a My Little Pony marathon. On the flip side lies the hooks. Then repeat the process. Throughout all of these segments, including crescendos the pacing largely remains the same as well. Modest pacing and speed are to be found no matter whether a chorus, acoustic track or a breakdown the same speed and energy are endured. There is little to solicit your attention when no matter what the plethora of styles played you are given ultimately the same experience.