Review Summary: Comfort in familiarity
I’d like to imagine that an album is to a band as a child is to its parents. Much like a child, an album is essentially what its creators leave behind to continue their name and legacy. And just like how you’d expect a parent to be insulted when their child is constantly compared to another kid from around the block, a band must feel insulted when its works are compared to that of another band’s. Calling a rock outfit “the next Led Zeppelin” may seem like the greatest form of praise and worship to a fan of both artists, but it essentially denies a new band its own true identity. Mommy doesn’t want her little Jimmy to be remembered as being “just like that good boy Chris”; she just wants him to be remembered as plain ol’ Jimmy.
But sometimes that good boy Chris is more than just good; sometimes Chris is a child prodigy that only comes along every so often. Everyone in town knows of Chris and can only imagine how proud his parents must be. When this happen other parents start to use him as a role model for their own children. Every action is taken in order shape their Jimmy into the perfect seed they’ve come to envy. This again is seen in the music world when band after band replicate their sound after the legendary Chrises of the past.
All Rights Removed
clearly has a role model it looks up to. In fact, it has a couple. And while most parents may deny any claims to who they model their children after, Airbag truly don’t give a ***. They proudly have their little Jimmy wear his role models as sleeves, sleeves that say “Look give me a chance, I’m just like Chris!”
Although sometimes described as post-rock outfit, I would simply add the term to the list of the band’s influences. Airbag follows closer to the footsteps of Pink Floyd’s take on dreamy progressive rock. Even the guitar tone and style downright mimic David Gilmour’s at times. The solos on “All Rights Removed” are easily some of its highlights; the bluesy and emotional passages soar in a way that reminisces a lot of Floyd’s, a notable example being the outro to the first part of “Homesick” sounding like a third solo from Comfortably Numb. The vocals, credited to two members, sound more than similar to Anthema’s Judgment
era. This foreboding and emotive style help make a depressing track like “Never Coming Home” seem ripped right out of Alternative IV
. The singing is actually quite fitting with the rest of the band and feels connected with the soundscapes. Even the composition and structure of many of these songs sound like a child of Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, often starting with jarring hard rock-esque riffs only to segue into melancholic ballads.
And these are just a few influences that came to mind. The band themselves have listed countless names of which they dream to aspire to. By following the leader, Airbag of replicated a sound that is hard not to enjoy. Again, the guitar generally steals the show on this album. Bjorn plays his instrument with grace and elegance, clearly top notch at his game. Because of him songs on All Rights Removed
have added layers of texture and soundscapes that further drive their sound.
Often times, however, you will question whether you enjoy the band for what they are, or because you enjoy the influences they stem from. The sleeves that have Chris’ name written all over are worn in even the hottest weather in order to cover up the true scars beneath. In this case, the scars can be represented by All Rights Removed’s
lack of originality. So when things start to grow intimate with Jimmy, and it’s time for him to take his clothes off and show you who he truly is, he seems to simply refuse.
A lot of bands go through this sort of identity crisis. In fact, I’d say every band mentioned in this review took a few albums to finally establish their own sound. Much like Anathema did with Eternity
, or Porcupine Tree around Stupid Dream
, Airbag needs to leave their comfort zone and enter a sound that truly reflects who they are. They need to become their own band; one that can father a child that is remembered not for being like Chris, but for being just plain ol’ Jimmy. Until then, All Rights Removed
is an excellent listen in progressive and post-rock territory that I’d encourage anyone to try out.