Review Summary: Isis for emo kids, now in major keys.
Envy - Insomniac Doze
Recap: Envy is from Japan. They're enjoyed and praised by fans of emo, post-hardcore, metal, indie, whatever. They've got their own thing going on that lies somewhere between Gospel and Welcome the Plague Year, or maybe, Isis and Hopesfall. Either way, they're compelling, and, as of right now, are carving out their own niche in the hardcore realm. I'll be brief on another point too, I have only heard a small portion of their previous release A Dead Sinking Story
. I liked what I heard but never bothered checking out the whole album.
Envy, I'm sorry. I was wrong to play you like that. Your albums sound so much better as they run together. I love how you pace your albums to run beautifully through pounding hardcore sections and juxtapose that against lovely softer sections. I'm sorry I assumed you'd just use soft-loud dynamic shifts like Thursday when you really sound more like (old) A Day in Black and White or maybe even Explosions in the Sky. I made all these assumptions before we fell in love like this. Girl, those other post-rock/emo/post-hardcore/metal bands mean nothing to me now.
But on more realistic and less doting note, this album is pretty cool. Like I said, Envy has fostered their own little unique style that distinguishes them from other like bands, and they dig their heels deep into that style. All the band names I've been throwing around are appropriate guideposts for understanding the sound. They have elements of long expansive building songs found in post-rock and metal, but they're really a hardcore band who know the value of a giant crescendo. The end result is familiar yet just off the beaten path enough to feel new and exciting. However the primary way in which they distinguish themselves, by having major key tonality during heavy parts, seems to lead to pros and cons.
This CD is pretty much all diatonic (definitely unlike A Dead Sinking Story
, and also excepting the wonderfully surprising "Night in Winter"), and sits a lot on major keys, especially during the larger sounding moments as mentioned earlier. Being in such a static harmonic state allows for a strong foundation for building massive songs with huge booming climaxes, as the song doesn't seem to move anywhere harmonically and instead grows in dynamics, tone, performance intensity, etc. So, this is a trade-off; I like their ability to build huge passages out of simple, slowly repeating chord progressions, but I dislike the plodding feeling of it all. By the end of the album, I wish Envy had taken me to more places and we had seen different things, or at least had a stranger and more unpredictably attractive foundation (think "The Gaze" by A Day in Black and White, which uses the tonally unstable em7-EM7-em7-cm7-em7 chord progression to give an eerie wavering to the whole 5:24). Still, despite this gripe, Envy makes good of what they do have here, which is strong climaxes, and frankly, that's what the music is about. Envy is not making overtly artsy music, or overtly brutal music, or technical or anything of that. They're all about mixing a brighter and sweet tonality with their unyielding, slow-moving power, and they do that better than most current bands (excepting maybe Isis and Deftones).
I have few other gripes with this album other than its harmonic vapidity. I wish the album wasn't so homogeneous and I don't feel like Envy is paving completely new territory with this album. Also, ftw about the album title. Actually, they're forgiven for the language barrier. Though I wish Envy pushed themselves more I have a very positive stance on this album. I love the crushing climaxes. I love the interspersed clean vocals, especially on "Further Ahead of Warp." I love that Envy isn't being touched by imitators right now, and that they're an over-hyped emo (not really) band that didn't break up after like an EP and an overseas tour. They seem sturdy, solid, and confident with their style. Now if only they'd explore some crazy unchartered musical territory, I could really commit to them. Until then I'm going to cheat of them with a few other cool bands. Emos in every area code bitc