Review Summary: Old passages of time forgotten but yet remaining, this is more than the sum of it's influences.
2010 was a strong year for hardcore and emo with incredible records from acts such as Sed Non Satiata, Loma Prieta, the Saddest Landscape and many others. Hidden amongst all the great releases that year was the little known Pennsylvanian trio We Were Skeletons. They signed to Topshelf Records and quickly released their second full length, aptly titled We Were Skeletons
. Receiving mild acclaim, the album featured guitar work reminiscent of Off Minor and 1994!, heavy bass work of equal proficiency that could easily double as another guitar and a solid backbone found in the drums. We Were Skeletons' Topshelf debut had quite a bit going for it. While it often times came off as derivative and highly imitative of screamo's past giants, it was brimming with potential and technical skill. Enter the band's third record to date, Blame & Aging
While being lumped into the screamo category, We Were Skeletons often found themselves far less violent and more technical than most of their genre mates. Things are slightly different this time around. Blame & Aging
is noticeably darker lyrically and musically, as evident by tracks such as the Buried Seat
opens the album with a slow build up typical to the genre before hitting hard with Long Night
. Though it is quite common to the genre, the instrumentation transitions between loud and soft dynamics effortlessly and King of Tricks
is the exemplary track of this as well as being one of many highlights.The guitar work from Justin Pallas is less technical than usual We Were Skeletons affair but that is in no way a bad thing, as the instrumentation sounds far more refined this time around. Rather than having technical riffage all over the place, Pallas has opted to save the frantic fretwork to act as highlights to most songs and it works wonders.
Justin Pallas on bass and Matt Nisley on drums hold things down beautifully for the guitars. While Pallas provides a nice low end, a vast portion of his bass lines are more than just rhythmic and are quite spectacular and match the guitar work in terms of technicality. The Buried Seat
and Slow Death
are perfect examples of Pallas' skill. Drummer Matt Nisley compliments the low end bass work nicely and switches between the heavier and softer sections with ease. Unfortunately, he is often overshadowed by the exquisite guitar and bass work. You can however find some nice fill work in the second half of Appear, Disappear
and the album does contain several instrumentals that allow you to focus more on the drum work due to the lack of vocals.
Blame & Aging
features stronger dual vocals from guitarist Justin Pallas and bassist Rafael Diaz than ever before. The two switch back and forth effortlessly and the vocals are far more pain filled and aggressive than anything the band has released thus far. Look at heavy hitting album closer Haunting the Ghost
for what will surely be a staple at live shows to get the crowd screaming along. Lyrically, We Were Skeletons has always had a very poetic approach but unlike most screamo bands, the lyrics are intelligent and
decipherable. Disease Artist
offers up "Death’s sweating black-cloud raindrops down on me."
and touches on self-loathing, a common topic. Lyrical highlight End of Suffering
opens strongly with "A walk through my head brings all sorts of memories. The lies that I tell myself so I maintain a sense of identity in spite of its irrationality. A cell is born in time and splits in two. My mind wanders and wraps in on itself."
Featuring 13 songs, Blame & Aging
clocks in at a monstrous 43 minutes. For a screamo or hardcore album, that is undeniably long and could induce fear about how coherent of a listen it could be. Fortunately for We Were Skeletons, every track has a highlight moment and they have found a way to construct an album without any noticeable dull points aside from the unnecessary Ruiner/Wasted
. Placed strategically throughout the album to break up the pace are three instrumentals. The strongest of these three would be the title track, Blame & Aging
. Containing simple but haunting riffs, the song slowly builds over it's near 4 minute time span and expresses all of the emotions of the album in one fell swoop. A slow but rewarding song that is the true highlight of the album.
With a clear command over dynamics and emotions, We Were Skeletons have released their strongest record yet and have proven that they are more than just a copycat band. What will surely be considered one of the years best screamo releases, existing genre fans will be thrilled by how fresh this album feels and how well it will fit in with old favorites. Whether or not you are a fan of screamo or hardcore, you owe it to yourself to give this album a listen for the sheer brilliance and emotion displayed by the instruments.