Off Minor - Off Minor
Saetia cast a huge shadow over the world of emo. Though never amazingly popular while active, they posthumously influenced the new generation of emo bands like Circle Takes the Square by reaming out emo's breadth. Their harder parts were harder, more visceral, the softer parts more reserved and whispered. Even their lyrics were more poetic and over the top than ever before, and they carried about them an artsy, self-important style that allowed them to become legends. Their members are now in more popular curve-setting bands like Hot Cross. But you know what? I don't like Saetia all that much. I find A Retrospective
to be good but not as legendary as their wads of street cred make them out to be. Maybe it's because of the online generation that Saetia's worth has been inflated or misrepresented, but I just never found them as heartbreaking as You and I, or as intelligent as Hot Cross, or as epic as Circle Takes the Square. They certainly set the foundation for those bands, but they don't take the cake. Another band who exists thanks to Saetia, Off Minor, has a style that holds a strong resemblance to Saetia in general tone and flavor (and even three band members - Off Minor : Sparta :: Hot Cross : The Mars Volta). They use similar chord voicings, time signatures, etc. leaving the music sounding similar overall. However, when dissecting the music, Off Minor eclipses Saetia with their unyielding technicality and ingenuity of style through those tried-and-true sounds of late 90s emo/screamo. Off Minor can simply be thought of as the next logical step away from Saetia's sound.
This particular album, which has been labeled by different sources as eponymous and named after the first track "Problematic Courtship," comprises the six tracks found on Off Minor's split with I Am the Resurrection, and also four live tracks (one of them being "The Transient" from Off Minor's later release Heat Death of the Universe
, which here is called "Willow Weep for Me"), so really, this album is an EP, with a few live tracks as a bonus. To understand this album, one must imagine a line from Saetia all the way to Off Minor's most recent LP Innominate
. I feel that on each release, Off Minor moves further from the archetypal emo/screamo of the late 90s, and towards a new style that embraces jazz rhythms and a whole lot of angular guitar riffs a la Owls. This album, being the first progression, is the simplest album of all towards embracing the further, most recent end of the spectrum, but it also retains a lot of the cool songwriting that made Saetia a very memorable band. There are a lot of dramatic build ups though generally the songs are shorter. The chaotic parts typically have a good headbanging groove, and just feel
like Saetia's (as if I could be any more vague, my apologies). However, the guitar riffs are insanely cool. Most of them feature a few pull-offs followed by slides in quick repetition with gives the guitar a sidewinding, angular feel through the album. Also, Off Minor likes to alternate between clean tone guitar, and distorted guitar so the riffs can be played very smoothly or in a particularly dirty fashion, which is a cool technique and is exploited numerous times throughout the album to lend tranquility or intensity to different sections. Also, the drumming takes another step up. The accents during the clean section are really fun and interesting while the harder drumming is much more jutting and strong. They're pretty mind boggling actually. Overall, this album is a leap beyond the emo you're used to, but very listenable and catchy in its instrumental prowess.
However, this is just an EP and is completely eclipsed by the later releases Heat Death of the Universe
. Not only is there more content on those albums, but the playing is even stronger, and the songs feel more inventive. Even just the intro to "The Heat Death of the Universe" leaps light years ahead with its awesome use of mute notes and jazzy, clean tone sweeps. I feel like this album, while good and impressive doesn't mean much in the scope of later releases, though I'm sure it was quietly groundbreaking back in 2002 when it was released. So, while in actuality this is a solid album, I don't recommend in when there are superior and easier to find LPs out there. However, if you can find it, check out the amazing track "My Recovery," which is one of Off Minor's top few songs. In fact, I could survive alone on just the intro guitar riff, and the clean tone jazzy style octave melody at the end of the song. Other than that though, get this to complete your collection, or to ween you off of Saetia, but not as Off Minor's best output.