Review Summary: Ambition that woos and wows, whilst remaining accessible and stripping itself of pretense.
Aristotle spoke of the "golden mean" - the desirable middle between two extremes. A lot can be said for finding a healthy medium in music, especially in music with very progressive leanings. There seems to be a lot of "this band is boring" from the progressive fans, as well as a lot of "this band tries too hard to be complex/progressive/deep" from the prog-hesistant music listeners. The Kindred (formerly Today I Caught the Plague) seem to have found themselves politely hovering right in what can be thought of as "no man's land" in World War I trench warfare, relatively seamless and original style of progressive music that is as accessible as it is complex and abstract. The Kindred are a group who have undergone a drastic stylistic change along with the change of their name, dropping nearly all metalcore influence for a more progressive metal/rock vibe, and have used this new style to create a very complex and perplexedly deep album and has more than enough accessibility and catch to latch on to.
Critics of vocalists like Rody Walker of Protest the Hero, and Darroh Sudderth of Fair to Midland will have an absolute field day on the soaring vocals of The Kindred's Dave Journeaux, who is not afraid to transform from calm soothing vocal lines, to powerful, energetic wails. While Journeaux is an exceptional vocalist, there are indeed point where his vocals are slightly off-putting. Take for example the outro to one of the album's singles "Decades". While there is nothing completely wrong with his voice, the vocal lines seem off-putting and just not up to par (partially due to songwriting, i believe that section was one of the weakest on the record). While many will criticize Journeaux, I do believe that he showcases his outstanding abilities and really sets this group apart. His voice brings a very unique and irreplaceable aura.
The group wastes no time in showcasing their wide array of styles they utilize as the album begins with "Wolvish", and instantly catches you with a few notes that could have easily been tossed into Sergio Leone's saga of "Man With No Name" films, and then quickly moves into a bouncing and fun, yet intricate riff as the album really kicks off. The song soon transitions into what very well should be a sung in the most depressing 1920's speakeasy of all time. This track is a decent indicator of what's to come as far as extensive mood changes, progressive tendencies, and powerful vocals.
Keyboardist Matt Young is not a slouch by any mean. I tilt my hat to him when he takes control of the band in small moments, with small solo's like the one in the spaghetti-western shred-fest that is "Millennia" that hint towards In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida or House of the Rising Sun, or the twisted-circus synth line that "Dreambender" begins with, continuing on to a piano solo, and leads into a solemn piano layered with a choral line and really envelopes the listener. More importantly Young is able to add an additional layer to the majority of the record. Mike Ieradi does extremely well behind the kit, and really ties this record together with some very well written drum arrangements that don't try too hard to melt your face with technicality, but still remain intricate enough to appreciate. Ieradi is not just another man keeping tempo for a group, he is/was (Mike recently committed to leave The Kindred and join forces with Protest the Hero) a backbone for this group. Axe-men Ben Davis and Steve Rennie both wield Telecasters and both bring a unique style of riffage and a modern guitar tone with a twinge of classic progressive-rock. Eric Stone on bass may not be the most meticulously refined bassist, but brings some great bass lines and a very elastic tone to the modern metal group.
While comparisons are most certainly going to be made, and most likely to the more alternative group Fair to Midland, and the more metal group Protest the Hero, The Kindred have done a very good job establishing their own unique sound, drawing from various different styles, and utilizing their creative ambition to diversify their sound. This release is a very promising release by a band who will certainly have a polarized reception, and despite a few shortcomings comes across as an enjoyable progressive album that will challenge you with intricacies, as well as just make you lick your lips and the sheer enjoyment. I very much look forward to seeing this group perform, and continue making music in such an energetic and creative fashion. Bravo.
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