Review Summary: A young band with old ideas bearing a heavy cross with remarkable ease.2 of 3 thought this review was well written
Todos Caeran are a young band from Canada who take up their weapons in the name of the 'traditional' screamo community that has gained an increased exposure over the last few years due to a combination of the crossover appeal of a few key bands and the resulting need for more authentic credentials for new comers and existing genre fans wishing to distinguish themselves from the casual La Dispute listener (Who are merely being used as an example of a band that has achieved some success).
Their music leans heavily on the tried and tested quiet/loud dynamic often associated with post rock influenced hardcore that is typified by the output of bands like Envy and Funeral Diner but retains a youthful exuberance that imbues the present melodies with a prickly edge and gives the heavier sections a prevailing sense of urgency such as that found in the tail end of "Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" which recalls the heyday of simplistic instrumentation and impassioned vocals as the primary hallmarks of the genre.
When the post rock element does manifest, it is deployed in a way that demonstrates an innate understanding of the building of tension and atmosphere and more importantly where such builds are best punctuated by release. This release tends to come in the form of screeching vocals dripping with a conviction that conjures images of genuine suffering rather than being the logical course of action of a guy who has recently traded his Four Year Strong shirt for a Pianos Become the Teeth one. This is perhaps best demonstrated in the title (and opening) track "After Dark" where confused spoken lyrics ebb and flow against a backdrop of a building sense of enormity that falls away to a deceptive lull before exploding in to a shrill scream atop a blanket of cymbal splashes and wrought guitar lines. While such devices have become common place and the formula sounds dry when committed to text, it does not lessen the impact when it is delivered as effectively as it is within these songs.
If one were to address the balance fairly, it would be hard to overlook the heavy Funeral Diner influence. Nor would the occasional heavy handed lyric go unheard. While there is a lot to admire on this release, a lot of the same positives can be found among their peers as well as the influences they strive to embody. While this point can easily descend in to a rant against the rigid paradigms present in what is presented as the "skramz revival" it is especially evident with this collection of songs, particularly at points where the vocals feel they have been sculpted and affected to a point that croaks and wavers become part of an aesthetic rather than the result of repeated heavy strain.
For those who are able to persist with the album in the face of such petty criticism and genre adherence there is a lot to enjoy. Throughout the album each instrument has a moment that draws you closer to the heart of the music allowing the listener to engage on a level that despite its flaws always feels genuine. Be it the hypnotic melody of "Dance Dance Dance" or the drawn out finale of the closing track, With After Dark, Todos Caeran remind us that there is still room for song writing within hearts fit to burst with hero worship.