Review Summary: An exciting & technically proficient work-in-progress.
Little-known band A Tale of Two Cities might be named after the nineteenth century Charles Dickens novel; the opening episode of the third series of television show ‘Lost’; or a reference to the quintet’s Bristol base in the South-west of England… But one thing that is for certain is that this is an emerging young group with an abundance of potential. Playing an intense brand of music which borders alternative-rock and post-hardcore, A Tale of Two Cities will remind listeners of Welsh neighbors Funeral For a Friend one moment, and trans-Atlantic outfits Saosin and Circa Survive the next. Having released promising debut EP ‘Have Heart’ towards the tail-end of 2011, the band wisely take less than a year to add to their repertoire with four track EP ‘New Horizons’.
Likely to be the first aspect one notices about A Tale of Two Cities, the dual guitar attack of Joe Marsh and Nicholas Coombes utilizes a melodic form of wailing guitar lines that is heavy on the delayed effects. While present on their previous EP, it was more so for the sole sake of melody… Here, however, the band’s honorable want to progress sees them retain those all-important hooky melodies, while also adding a satisfying helping of mood and atmosphere. Driving opener and lead single ‘Four Words’ exemplifies this near perfectly, deftly achieving a balance which should appeal to a wide range of the genre’s fans. Ably backed by Steve Elvin’s propulsive, hard-hitting drums, explosive duo ‘Familiar Traits’ and ‘Machine’ both build on what is presented by the opener, albeit in heavier and more moody fashion. ‘Machine’ actually infuses some industrial-like electronica into the equation, while the outro of ‘Familiar Traits’ is likely to be divisive, with a metalcore breakdown coming complete with harsh screams.
While nowhere near as distinctive as Anthony Green (not many vocalists are), lead singer Karl Ficarotta owns an impressive vocal range which serves the band well. On ‘Have Heart’, Ficarotta’s voice often felt like the rough cut of an unpolished diamond; occasionally dropping in an out of key to give off a strangely compelling raw effect. His improved vocals are more technically accomplished here, but thankfully without the use of over-production, so as to retain its absorbing nature. Interestingly, the production regularly asks a lot of Ficarotta, practically forcing him to strive for attention in the busy mix, and extracting a palpable sense of passion as a result.
A cursory listen to this 16 minute EP may lead some to conclude that these four tracks are too similar in style, yet it is the fact that A Tale of Two Cities add something to each of the tunes which makes ‘New Horizons’ so impressive. Using Saosin’s much-loved debut release ‘Translating the Name’ as a reference point would be unfair to the English quintet, but one cannot help but feel that it is a strong influence. Even still, delaying the release of an LP appears to have been an astute decision, with the outfit still a little short of mastering their intended dynamics. While more than adequate, ‘Fire Burning Through Our Wings’ proves that A Tale of Two Cities are still a work-in-progress; its minutely slower tempo and addition of keys not quite embellishing the dreamier aesthetics of the band’s sound. Ultimately, however, that’s what makes this technically proficient quintet such an exciting prospect: If they continue to progress as ambitiously as they have done here, then that eventual LP will undoubtedly be one to savor.
Is that how you always have so many recs? Just by treating them as your own recs? Maybe that's the secret. I'm always worried that, "hmm, somebody else might not think this is similar" but maybe that's a bad way to go about.
A Tale of Two Cities is probably Dickens's best, but The Mystery of Edwin Drood is undoubtedly his most fascinating (as it was unfinished, leaving the denouement largely to mystery), and A Christmas Carol definitely receives the most revisits.
Oh hardy har har. I've been listening to technically proficient bands since... ummm... well there was that one time... Oh no, I didn't finish that one... Ummm... I seem to recall listening to Cynic once... No, that was someone calling me a cynic... I know, I listened to a Mono album a couple of years back... Yeah, that was it. (Davey blows Thomas a raspberry)
Likely to be the first aspect one notices about A Tale of Two Cities, the dual guitar attack of Joe Marsh and Nicholas Coombes utilizes a melodic form of wailing guitar lines that is heavy on the delayed effects
Am I wrong or is "that is heavy" supposed to be "that are heavy" in that sentence? Something about it just reads weird to me. Maybe I'm illiterate. Either way man, great review! I will definitely check this out