Review Summary: A noticeably solid release that represents a striding step forward for the post-hardcore genre.
The modern post-hardcore scene has been moving at an incredible pace over the past few years. Not only has the genre expanded in size, but also in its sound in ranges of influence. Despite the fact that many people may claim that alternative music has become stagnant in recent epochs, many bands continue to defy that trend. This intriguing advancement of post-hardcore is perhaps most evident in Artifex Pereo, a progressive-minded band hailing from Louisville, Kentucky. Their major label debut album, Time in Place
, represents the budding nucleus of a band that tries, and succeeds, in pushing its own sound forward. This record changes and modifies the very essence of the music it adapts, and is one of the best and most innovative post-hardcore albums of the year.
Time in Place
was released on Tooth & Nail Records in May of 2014, and while many may expect it to be another preach-heavy Christian album, it certainly isn't. Fascinatingly, notwithstanding the spiritual beliefs of their label, Artifex Pereo claim they are a “secular rock” band, and offer a varied palette of lyrics. This is a signing choice that Tooth & Nail should be commended for, as it is rare to see a Christian label back a non-Christian record with such tenacity.
Time in Place
, similar to the fact that it defies the tropes of its Christian label, also manages to create an exciting, experimental musical formula. The most wonderful part of Artifex Pereo's music is that it holds an extraordinary number of diverse influences. Everything from traditional post-hardcore, jazz, folk, blues, and progressive and experimental rock is evident in their sound. At odds with only Decoder's Decoder
and Dance Gavin Dance's Happiness
in terms of unique style and wacky influences, Time in Place
is one of the most refreshing and quirky sounding records that has ever graced alternative music. This aspect, in many ways, is one of the album's most pleasurable and distinguishable.
Musically and production wise, Time in Place
tentatively borders on perfection. Engineering wizard Kris Crummett produced the album, and it sounds tight, roomy, and outright glorious at times. Artifex Pereo are certainly the perfect fit for Crummett's abilities, and the results are truly spectacular. The record's vocals sound perfect, the drums are huge, and the guitars are beautifully mixed.
However, Time in Place
's strongest strengths are Artifex Pereo's instrumental performances themselves. Vocalist Lucas Worley unleashes powerful efforts on every track, while guitarists Jamie Davis and Jordan Haynes dish out some intricate, progressive playing. Also, an equally impressive aspect is drummer Cory Eaves' smart conduct throughout the record. Boasting wicked fills, great chops and smart writing, Eaves owns every part he plays on in Time in Place
In line with this trend, the track “Laugh & the World Laughs With You” shows off the band's dazzling skill at its best, especially in terms of guitar and vocal work.
The central theme of Time in Place
is the way it plays intelligently with the post-hardcore formula. Perhaps the most evident example of this ideal is the inclusion of Jeremiah Brinkworth's blues-sounding keyboards, which offer a spark and a refreshing splash to every song on the release.
Still, the experimentation does not end with Brinkworth. Nearly every track on the record, in some way, stays true to its post-hardcore roots while simultaneously turning the genre on its head. “Hands of Penance” has an unorthodox song structure while remaining hard-hitting. “Liable for Tragedy” plays with some wonderful vocal exchanges between Worley's more refined sound and guitarist Jamie Davis' raw croons. “The Straight & the Winding Way” is groovy and chalk-full of wonderful keyboard work, but stays within its hardcore-influenced limits. “The Golden Age” shocks and bewilders by the way it uniquely delivers its addicting, slow building chorus. There is no shortage of musical progression in Time in Place
, and Artifex Pereo revels in changing your expectations, showing true variety, and pleasuring the listener with their intelligence.
The greatest perceivable weakness that Time in Place
suffers from is its preposterous length. Clocking in at nearly fifty minutes, the album is nearly impossible to listen to in one sitting. This is not a flaw in some ways, but it forces the listener to work at the release one song at a time, instead of being able to attack it as a large, whole package. The major issue with Time in Place
is not that it has weak songs. It is the fact that it has too many good ones to prevent exhaustion.
Additionally, Artifex Pereo are clearly a post-hardcore band, and tinkering within the confines of that space is when they are at their best. Unfortunately, when the band attempts to perform outside of their faster, more straightforward skills into slower territory, the resulting songs occasionally fail to impress. That is not to say that the more meandering songs are bad, but simply do not take advantage of Artifex Pereo's most excellent qualities. This is a shame, and also a conundrum, because without more controlled efforts like “Tied to the Sunset” and “Apeiron”, the album could have become overwhelming.
As a whole, Time in Place
is a wonderful, electrifying package that will please regular post-hardcore listeners and cater to those desperate for change within the genre. The album is not afraid to evolve itself and the music it plays, yet it strikes a perfect balance between experimentation and familiarity. This album is one of the year's best, marks an incredible debut from a tremendously talented group, and is a powerful package. Overall, post-hardcore music has never sounded this varied, this dynamic, or this interesting at any period before.
If you like post-hardcore or progressive music as a whole, pick up this record. You will be doing yourself and your ears a kind, gracious service.