Review Summary: A striking album that has a level of maturity many post-hardcore bands can't even dream of
With the recent influx of arty post-hardcore borne out of teenage angst and world-weary attitudes, listeners would be forgiven for feeling that it's a genre with relatively little steam left in it. The beauty of the broader genres in music is that there is always a way for the music to progress and expand, whereas the more specific iterations of the genre have to keep to a formulaic ideal rather than convention guidelines, sometimes rendering the output a little restrictive. The best post-hardcore of this type (distinguished from the more aggressive and less dissonant bands such as Glassjaw) are the bands that manage to powerfully transmit the emotion of the song to the listeners, through an amalgamation of the individual elements. Not as easy as it sounds, particularly in a musical arena that thrives on the unusual. Kaddish, however, feel like a mature post-hardcore band. Their style isn't particularly groundbreaking, but it is most definitely a unique take on the genre, littered with innovation and home to a particularly stripped-down sense of variety. Creating a form of post-hardcore stylistically similar to the 'wave' bands, the Scottish outfit are a refreshing take on a tried-and-tested formula.
One of the most noticeable things about Kaddish's self-titled release is the raw emotion that courses through every second. Lyrically, the album is superb, but even if this content was questionable, it would hardly matter. The release is laden with morose and emotive musicality, with muddy yet fulfilling melodies shaping the bitter compositions with a schizophrenic but startlingly fluid musical form. The vocal delivery of the release is also first-rate and the perfect accompaniment to the music. The high-pitched screaming technique utilized has a noticeable emotional weight behind it; an almost mournful tone that plays to the lowest strains of the music and emphasizes them with admirable panache. On songs such as 'The Great Apart', which features a math-infused introduction and a pleasant musical break (featuring a subtly understated screaming in the silence) before launching into a considerably more aggressive spiral back into the track. This alternating structure flits very creatively between the styles, and as the song further evolves into low soft rock, it really highlights the fact that all of these elements gel together remarkably well, pulling listeners from one musical excursion to the next with enough raw showmanship to sustain the angsty and yet comforting audio.
Melody throughout the album is intrinsically linked to the structure, whilst still maintaining an air of apartness; as the drums thunder and the bass booms, low , barely perceptible melodies dance and unfold as if surrounded by the other instruments and vocals. This affords the music a somewhat 'dirty' sound, but in the context, it only adds to the raw experience. Tracks such as 'In Dialogue' and 'To Another' are unusually assembled but still hold to genre conventions, and as such are rife with subtle melody. The former track features a particularly memorable descent into instrumental chaos that recalls the classic grind of the '80s- blast beats, heavily distorted muffled guitar work and a seemingly shriveled vocal input that contorts and the music assaults and develops. As well as the screaming technique, there are instances of lyrical repetition (that would serve well in a live environment) on such tracks as 'A Book Unto Himself', which add an unstable air of command to the proceedings. This may sound like a complaint, but it yet again sells the dour vulnerability of the release. Similarly, the hoarseness of the vocals on following track, 'Long Vigilance, Waking Life' is a tumultuous and achingly emotional song, where the strength of the vocals carries the song and affords the majority of it's overall power, which is very impressive. Final track 'To Another' also features a warm chant-along section, which should feel out of place in a release of such a style. In fact, it feels organic and, despite being a rather superfluous feature, actually adds depth. Group vocals add an air of togetherness to the release; safety in numbers, being part of something- it sells its' listeners a startling unity that they have only to accept to benefit from.
is an exciting and constantly changing release. The instrumentation is consistently intriguing and despite being rather typical of the genre, it feels impressively original through its' unique assembly. The usual discordance of post-hardcore has been retained, but unlike a number of their contemporaries, this is not at the expense of melody. As such, the experience has a purer sense of rebellion and emotive conveyance than a number of similar bands, giving the release a refreshing, yet still familiar sound. This is where Kaddish
succeeds best; it takes a genre with established conventions and styles and repackages them, somehow managing to make them more appealing in the process, despite the fact the sound is markedly similar. It is through subtlety and deceptively crafty songwriting that the overall success of the album is realized, and such aspects are the facets that will sell the release to both jaded fans of the genre and casual listeners.