Review Summary: With its complex instrumentation, frequently changing tempos and memorable vocals, Smoke is definitely a must hear for anyone that considers themselves a fan of raw and melodic screamo.
In 2010, Texas based screamo band For Want Of released their Self-Titled
debut EP consisting of four tracks clocking in at seven minutes. The best way to describe the record would have been an angry version of Hot Cross. While the guitar work was certainly impressive and the vocals infectious, the record could at times be overbearing, sounding quite messy and the four tracks really feeling like one longer song. Fast forward two years and For Want Of recorded their follow up to their 7" debut and titled it Smoke
. In the blink of an eye, the record disappeared off the face of the earth and save for the few who obtained it in its brief time of existence, it might as well have never happened. Well over a year and a half after said incident, Smoke
is finally seeing the light of day in a proper release.
"I distance myself as I grow old..."
The record opens with I'll Go It Alone
, where the listener is treated to guitar feedback before the track erupts in what sounds highly reminiscent of the latter half of the S/T
EP. It features complex guitar work and has a bridge with the same infectious style of vocals that were found on the Self-Titled opener. The difference this time around is the band sounds noticeably tighter. Unlike the 7", the guitar riffs are played far cleaner, they flow naturally from one another and they never reach that schizophrenic sound where too much is going on at once. Likewise, the drum work has vastly improved and the bass tone sounds great.
Each song features a memorable portion and every member has their moment to shine. Whether it be the guitar work found in the Hot Cross-esque intros of Episode IV
and Dark Path
, the drum work in the outro of Mentors
, the bass work of Coyote
or the vocals and dissonance during Dogmatists
, each member brings something to the table. The band certainly benefits from having three distinctly different vocalists (four if you count the frequent guest vocals) that work incredibly well together. In addition to the vocals, the guitars accent the complex noodling and octaves, the bass has a nice mid-high range that cuts through the guitars exceptionally well and the drums are crisp and tight.
The production of the 7" was incredibly rough and could at times cause the tracks to become overbearing. With a better mixing job, the EP would have sounded far less chaotic and allowed the songs more room to breath. So how does Smoke
's production fare and what does it bring us now in 2013 that it couldn't bring us in 2012? For starters, the production is much more solid this time around. Each instrument is mixed quite well relative to one another and no single instrument particularly drowns out the other the way they did on the Self-Titled
release. The cymbals are no longer laughable and the bass mixing and tone is much more pleasing to the ears. In comparison to Smoke's release last year, it's certainly tighter and the mix is slightly altered, but you'd be hard pressed to find any noticeable differences if you weren't sitting with both copies going back and forth.
With its complex instrumentation, frequently changing tempos and memorable vocals, Smoke
is definitely a must hear for anyone that considers themselves a fan of raw and melodic screamo. If you found yourself on the fence about their debut or only slightly intrigued, Smoke
's improved song writing and far more crisp production should easily clear up just how fantastic this band can be.
"And when you die, you won't be saved. You've come to live a life that's not free."