Review Summary: For every good part on this album, its bad doppelganger lurks...
Artifex Pereo is a band that is part of a sort of re-envisioning movement of emo that seems to take its musical influences from the realm of post-hardcore/metal instead of pop-punk. I won’t attempt to stick a tag onto this sound at the high risk of sounding dumb but the resulting sound is indeed refreshing. Ailments and Antidotes is a solid release for Artifex Pereo that combines elements of emo, (the lyrics, vocal melodies and catchy riffs) with some well produced and pounding drums, sparse but well-placed screams and outstanding vocals.
One of the things one might notice about this release is that other than the vocals, not much else gives off that immediate feel of emo. Double bass pedaling mixed with the relative volume of the guitars at times do a decent job of hiding the emo influences, but close listening will reveal that the song structures are for the most part unchanging with the vocals crooning over the top of the fast-paced guitar play as well as plenty of slowed down portions which will have you going “Ahhh I hear it now.” The band does do some interesting things here akin to something you’d expect Tides of Man to do. For example the intros to “Suburbanite Sprawl” and “Devil and Water” are very pleasant to hear in contrast to the rest of the album due to how different but yet appropriate they sound.
The guitars are all well-produced and played effectively but other than a few neat moments, will fail to provide any lasting effects of awe but with this being primarily a vocally driven album this is to be expected. A pleasant surprise is how much the bass helped the overall sound of the record. On more than one occasion I found the bass added just enough groove to an area for some toe-tapping or provided that extra energy in a breakdown that seemed to give it that nice “core” feel. The focus and highlight of Ailments and Antidotes, however, is the vocalist. While his voice isn’t a distinct gem like say Dustin Kensrue’s, one can tell there’s some talent here. The omission of the superfluous screaming sections of their previous release is a welcome choice that allows his range to shine through in songs like “Suburbanite Sprawl” and “Edgar Suit” without the distraction of having to scream at random points.
While a good album, the thing about Ailments and Antidotes is it seems to give you a certain feeling almost throughout the whole play of, “If they only did ____ this song would’ve been so much better.” It is this ever-present feeling that plagues Ailments and Antidotes from becoming all of the emo-rocky goodness it could have been. For everything they do right there’s a thing they could’ve done better or just done wrong. The vocalist is amazing but his melody writing is all the same, the guitars are well-played but why are they drowned out by the vocals at times? It’s these little things that add up.
For a relatively new band, this is far from a poor release and a lot of good can be heard here. With practice and some all around improved writing it’d be reasonable to expect better or hopefully some more inventive things in the future from these guys.